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Left wing government and taxes March 3, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.

Missed this at the weekend, but the framing of this story in the Independent is telling isn’t it? This in the course of discussing Jack O’Connor’s hardly startling revelation that:

“If we had a left agenda, a left government in Ireland for the last four years, they might well be more unpopular than this one,” Mr O’Connor said.

“Because a left government would have increased taxation to sustain public services. They would have required the rich to pay more, but they would have required everybody else to pay a little bit more as well,” he added.

It might well, and there’s no getting away from it. But, note how it is used in the following:

The admission is significant, given that Mr O’Connor is vigorously campaigning for Labour to be part of a so-called “alliance of the left”. He has called on the party to stop ruling out Sinn Féin as a potential coalition partner.

But his assertion that workers would be paying more tax today under a left-wing government may damage Mr O’Connor’s campaign.

Put aside what O’Connor wants or doesn’t in relation to a ‘left-wing’ government, more interesting is how even his don’t scare the horses stuff, which is still positioned well within the orthodoxy, is regarded with if not hostility certainly in a negative light. That’s a perfect example of how the media and political narrative is shaped – the acknowledgement that properly sustained public services require greater taxation which is in and of itself problematic.

Independents… March 3, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
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A lot of media interest about the news that an alliance of Mayo based community groups are advertising for candidates to run at the GE on their behalf. That’s not so surprising, one E Kenny is after all the incumbent in that constituency along with count ‘em, three other FG TD’s. Won’t be that many next time out.

Had to smile on reading this:

Asked about the group’s plans this afternoon, Mr Kenny said anyone could stand for office when nominations opened ahead of polling day.

He rejected suggestions that Mayo was not being adequately represented at a national level and said there was more happening in provincial and rural Ireland than ever before.

Well, it wouldn’t be the first time representation in numbers or profile didn’t seem to tally with actual representation. And super-majorities don’t lend themselves to greater representation either. Though perhaps it is simply that there’s not much sense of alternative voices in the constituency, and who could blame them?

Got to wonder how they will do.

But this is useful too:

UCC-based Dr Liam Weeks, who is publishing a book called ‘Independents in Irish Democracy’ in the next year, says voters do not have traditional ties to political parties like they did in the past.

That, he says, is good for independents, and new political parties if they emerge between now and when the general election takes place.

But what of this?

Professor of Politics at UCD Dr David Farrell has said as we approach the next election, and after years of austerity budgets, he does not expect major political transformation or upset in the way people vote.

However, he sees space for a new political party to emerge.

But where? Right or left?

In a recent business briefing for Davy, Prof Farrell mined through the 2011 National Election Study and showed the best space for a new party to emerge is on the centre-right of the political spectrum – precisely the space that independent TD Lucinda Creighton seeks to fill with Reboot Ireland.

Really? Really? In a state where FG, FF and the LP provide an almost inescapable centre right/right of centre lock on political activity? That doesn’t sound right.

Reclaim the Bridges in Dublin for International Women’s Day March 2, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Feminism, International Women's Day, The Left.
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Reclaim the Bridges

March 8th 2015

Starting 1 pm

Grattan Bridge (Capel Street), Dublin

Other actions nationwide – see WP for details.

Too many leaflets… February 26, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.

This is entertaining…

Some of you may enjoy this….. February 26, 2015

Posted by irishelectionliterature in The Left.
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The UK Spartacist League’s papers from 1978-2011 now digitised and online

That new left formation? February 26, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.

All the talk of a new left slate that would either work with or in parallel with Sinn Féin is very interesting and it’s heartening to see some of the unions actually pushing towards a more functional involvement. Moreover it makes sense, even if there are odd contradictions. For example, it’s hard to determine whether this is meant to be a big tent project that encompasses SF and Inds and some small parties, or the latter working in parallel to SF. I’ve heard and read both being posited as potential approaches. Hard too to see all those forces lashed up in a sort of Syriza redux formation – not least because some of their Greek referents were outside Syriza and ran against, or in competition, to it. Still the local is everything, so perhaps there’s space there for flexibility.

The Phoenix piece on this, under the guise of a profile of Pearse Doherty, this last week admits that ‘A SF dominated Left Alliance government may turn out to be a chimera and a political proposal too far’. And it’s difficult too to quite get the measure of where the proposal is coming from. Is it from SF, or is it from elements of the left of SF? I’ve heard people argue from various perspectives that it is one or the other. Or is it that some of the unions are functioning as a bridge?

Shane Fitzcarraldo’s comment reproduced on the CLR last week gives a good outline of one rationale behind this, though the following really caught my attention:

A slate of the left-of-Sinn Fein which could agree key principles (abolish Irish Water, water and property taxes, repeal the 8th Amendment, for a wealth tax, end the tax haven regime in its totality, opposition to the sectarian Good Friday Agreement carve-up in the North, etc.), but would give supporting votes to a Sinn Féin minority government which ruled out coalition with the right and had a programme for government that broke with neoliberalism, would be a once-in-a-century earthquake in Irish political life.

There’s two clear problematic aspects there. First is it entirely clear that SF would seek to repeal the 8th? Secondly is it tenable that SF would be in ‘opposition to the sectarian Good Friday Agreement carve-up in the North’. The rest is pretty much boilerplate stuff that I suspect with some finessing SF wouldn’t find much of an issue with.

On the other hand. On the other hand. Given all the positioning on the centre right in relation to potential formations and alliances it makes sense for there to be some effort on the left to pull forces together, and even in the short term there may be a significant utility to this in terms of increasing transfers. I hate to bring up a certain three letter acronym, but the ULA served a purpose in generating an excitement and energy around the then potential left candidates. So perhaps we’re looking at a much more constrained ULA redux, with or without SF’s explicit imprimatur.

And it is, of course, possible that the idea – again with some somewhat more progressive unions working as a catalyst – has occurred to all involved more or less simultaneously.

As to the overall idea? The Phoenix suggests that it can only work with FF as a constituent element, which on the numbers makes sense but surely would be too much for some of those involved. ‘On a rough calculation that sees FF with 35 seats, SF 30, Left Independents 10 and the LP perhaps 10’. And argues that that would have the necessary 80 plus seats for government.

Who would the left Independents be? No mention of RBB, but Collins, Daly, Healy, someone they call Gallagher, McGrath, O”Sullivan, Pringle, Wallace and a couple more from a new intake post-election. If all those went in so I suspect would Murphy and Halligan, and possibly even Donnelly.

So many problems though. Would the LP sign up? Would some of those on the Ind side want to work in tandem with others or with FF? Or with SF? Or vice versa – the FF ranks aren’t exactly a hotbed of left Republicanism, are they?

And would those represented by Fitzcarraldo agree to what was not exactly a government ‘ruling out coalition with the right’, or one likely to ‘break with neoliberalism’, at least not much.

Still, it’s an idea.

An Phoblacht out now, including… February 25, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Economy, Irish Politics, Northern Ireland, The Left.
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Time to go Taoiseach

John Alderdice writes in Uncomfortable Conversations – Letting go of old ways of thinking

Michelle Gildernew and Fermanagh & South Tyrone– A special place, a special legacy

1916 centenary programme of events launched

Creating common ground ahead of Dáil election – Another View by Eoin Ó Broin

International Women’s Day: No peace without women, says Megan Fearon MLA

Trevor Ó Clochartaigh: Mise agus mo Dhia

Belfast’s famous black taxis – ‘Hacked off’ and still fighting for equality

The DUP’s anti-LGBT ‘Conscience Clause’ – Rainbow Project Director John O’Doherty

Van Morrison and Belfast school days shared by Robert Allen

Put our money in our hands – Fiscal devolution for the North – Conor Murphy MP

Irish state reveals its contempt for Irish language rights

The good news for the left… and troubling analysis as regards the referendum for marriage equality. February 24, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
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In my last post I pointed up the mixed news for the left, that despite everything it remains remarkably marginal in terms of electoral support, with the far left likely to get up to ten or so seats, perhaps more but not many more, very possibly less. The social democratic left (and by the by the definition of same and the boundaries with the far left is a little permeable) is in ragged order but again can expect to return seven or eight TDs. Perhaps more. None of this terrible, far from it. To have that number of TDs after a long period where the ‘left’ was represented by Tony Gregory and Joe Higgins alone is excellent, but the problems are self-evident.

But what of the good news? As a bloc, in the RedC/SBP poll, smaller parties and others remain in rude good health in comparison to some years back. A good 1 in 3 of voters are tending that way. And Richard Colwell of RedC notes an even more important aspect of that:

Support has been relatively steady at this level since October last year, and before that had been on a relatively consistent upward trend.

That’s the key, the fact that support is consistent across a long period of time. This doesn’t mean that it won’t falter. Anything but. But it does mean that more of that vote is likely to be retained by the small parties and Independents than not. And that’s great news on the level of individual candidates.

In the same piece Colwell looks at the referendum. RedC carried out polling that looked not just at headline support for marriage equality but also asked people secondary questions as regards issues that might impinge directly or indirectly. Given the reality that these issues will be raised the exercise has some validity, even if it is irritating in the extreme that the central question is being diverted in this way.

…the reality is that over a third of those who had claimed they would support the referendum, still have reservations about gay couples adopting. It is entirely plausible to suggest that those with reservations around issues that will be used in the campaign are not sure to vote in favour of it, and as such only 48 per cent of voters can actually be described as “secure” Yes voters.

That is not bad. Colwell notes that the headline figure is even better… but…

While overall the great majority (77 per cent) agree that they will vote to support the change to the constitution, in line with most recent polls that ask about vote intention directly, actually only 59 per cent agree strongly that they will do so, with 18 per cent only agreeing more tentatively.


This view was further emphasised when we raised the issue of whether voters – despite saying they would vote Yes in favour of the referendum – had any reservations about the idea of same sex marriage. An even higher proportion of voters (42 per cent) who had previously suggested they would vote Yes, claim to still have reservations with the basic concept of the referendum.

Colwell suggests that:

Once this analysis is taken into account, and as an extreme measure all those with reservations about same-sex marriage and gay adoption are taken out of the Yes camp, the proportion “certain” to vote Yes at the referendum collapses from the highs of 77 per cent to just 44 per cent of all voters.

This may be overly pessimistic, but it’s fairly clear there’s a sustained effort in the media to shape the narrative – and the recent Bill has seen considerable evidence of same. Certainly no room for complacency.

Alan MacSimóin Interview Part 2 February 22, 2015

Posted by irishelectionliterature in The Left, Video interview.
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Via The Irish Republican & Marxist History Project
Part 1 of the interview

This is the story of Alan MacSimoin a long-time Anarchist activist who joined as a young man the Official Republican Movement (Sinn Fein). MacSimoin was central in the Murray Defence Committee in 1976-77 to stop the state execution of Anarchists Noel and Marie Murray for the killing of a member of the police. He was a founder member of the Workers Solidarity Movement in 1984.

Given over 40 years of political activism he gives his analysis on the current crisis within capitalism, also the lack of a response to the Palestinian struggle from western governments. Alan is currently involved with the Stoneybatter and Smithfield Peoples History Project and the Stoneybatter Against The Water Tax campaign

Statement from the CPI. February 22, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, European Politics, Irish Politics, The Left.

21st February

The crowing from the establishment and its tame media about forcing a climb-down by SYRIZA over the Greek debt and the continuing austerity programme barely disguises the complete contempt that they have for the people.

It matters little whether one thought that SYRIZA would inevitability have surrendered to the demands of the European Union or had hoped they would stand up and challenge it and defend the Greek people and blaze an alternative direction from within the European Union and oppose the IMF. Those who are anxious to advance the people’s interests need to reflect more seriously about what these past few weeks have demonstrated.

One of the lessons must be that the treaties governing European Union have in effect outlawed not only a radical people-centred solution but have effectually outlawed even tame Keynesian policies, and that the controlling forces are determined to solve the crisis of capitalism at the expense of the working people.

A second thing is clear: that people can vote at the national level for whoever they like, but this is not decisive, as the European Union will impose TINA (“There is no alternative”) and the economic and political straitjacket of what is in the interests of capitalism.

The debt is still the weapon of choice to be used against the people; democracy has been trumped by the overriding needs of European monopolies and the big finance houses and banks.

Those in Ireland who still labour under the illusion that the European Union can be transformed into something that it is not, need to look long and hard at the events of the last few weeks. The blocking minority that is built in to the EU decision-making process means that the big powers—those with real economic power and therefore real political power—can block anything that is not in the interests of the monopolies and finance houses.

The Irish government, once again demonstrating its abject servility towards imperialist powers, did nothing to support the Greek people apart from expressing a vacuous sympathy, and voted to defend the interests of the ruling class.

Those who continue to peddle the illusion, whether here in Ireland, in Greece or in Spain, that they can solve the people’s problems within the confines of the European Union and controlling mechanisms such as the euro are only leading our people down a blind alley. There are simply no solutions to be found to debt or austerity within the European Union.

The struggles of the Greek people have exposed the true class nature of the EU and its institutions. They have shown that it can be resisted – a lesson that needs to be learnt by working people throughout Europe.

From the Communist Party of Ireland.


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