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‘We have just 16 months to build a republican movement in Scotland’ June 30, 2022

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Thanks but no thanks June 30, 2022

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See, Tony Blair has offered an opinion on the state of the British Labour Party.

Tony Blair has dismissed the need for a new political party, saying Labour has “recovered” under Keir Starmer but needs a clearer sense of direction to win the next general election.

After a mixed few weeks for Labour, with MPs raising concerns about Starmer’s appeal but the party managing to retake the “red wall” seat of Wakefield in a byelection, Blair said the leadership needed to come forward with appealing new policies.

And:

“I think the Labour Party has recovered its basic poise and clarity,” Blair said. “To be fair to Starmer, when you think of what he inherited, what he’s done, I think he’s made an enormous amount of progress.”

Didn’t Starmer promise to run on a  lot of that inheritance, or doesn’t that count?

Reasonable, all too reasonable June 30, 2022

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We live in an age where despite ferocious reaction we are often presented with seemingly reasonable proposals that on any consideration are anything but. For example. The Guardian noted this in relation to protests against the end of Roe versus Wade.

Meanwhile, a pickup truck ploughed through protesters in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, hospitalizing one woman [at protests]. The Cedar Rapids police department declined to comment on the incident.

The state recently passed a law making it legal for drivers to hit protesters with vehicles in certain circumstances. Other states in the US have passed similar laws.

I was minded to follow that link which brings one to this story.

It’s not entirely clear if the bill has fully passed but note the explanation:

Proponents say the bill would protect drivers who are trapped during unlawful protests occurring on roadways and grant them immunity if they are trying to carefully maneuver out of the area of an unlawful protest.

Whereas the ACLU and others argue:

But that provision has drawn concern from opponents, who argue it extends protections to negligent drivers and sends the wrong message when paired with the other provisions of the bill affecting protesters. 

So, so reasonable, the arguments for this bill but, in practice, potentially anything but.

That’s the times we live in.

 

Another wave of Covid – the ‘virus for all seasons’ June 30, 2022

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And so RTÉ tells us this:

Ireland is in the middle of another wave of Covid-19, driven largely by Omicron sub-variants, according to the HSE’s Chief Clinical Officer.

Dr Colm Henry said the sub-variants now comprise about 90% of cases that they are doing genomic sequencing on.

Speaking on RTE’s New at One, he said: “These new variants mean that the people who were previously infected with Delta, such as in summer, autumn of last year, or even that we call the BA.1 variant earlier this year, don’t enjoy that protection from reinfection from these variants. He said this shows that Covid is not seasonal, but is a “virus for all seasons”.

There’s the news that 12 Aer Lingus flights were cancelled yesterday due to a spike in Covid cases amongst crews. Of course a highly intensive work context like that with workers in close proximity would be particularly vulnerable to such spikes. After all Covid is an illness, if one contracts it – however mild or severe, it will take time to get over it. An airline can’t muddle by like some workplaces. Ironically Aer Lingus itself ‘welcomed’ the news that mandatory mask-wearing on flights was to be dropped back in May. That’s not looking so clever now. But as someone on twitter noted recently the overall approach has been one of ignoring the constraints of the present situation.

And the government? Well the government is looking, looking mind you, at legislation that would allow reintroduction of mandatory masking in some limited areas. Seems late in the day, doesn’t it? And then there’s the issue of numbers at the moment which are considerable. Andrew Flood notes that there has been no respite from the rise in cases.  

Already this last seven days I’ve been in two contexts where people I have some connection with have come down with Covid. In both instances I’ve been very close to them. It will be interesting to see how matters progress.

I’m being careful, I limit my social interactions sharply in the seven days before any family or other social event as best as is possible – had to forego two gigs for precisely that reason in the last two weeks. But I’m fortunate that where I work outside the house I’m able to keep contacts fairly low in any event (actually truth is where I am tends to be deserted much of the time). Others do not have anything like that luxury. 

So it’s a crapshoot really. And as has happened to me this week I can’t be sure that the mitigations will be sufficient. In a way for me the problem is more focused on those I know, family and otherwise, who are older.  The last thing I want to do is trail Covid into their lives. Mind you, as Andrew Flood notes:

This seems to me to be impossible to argue against. I know people on their second infections. Some who are on their third. Every three to four months. And then one has to ask what is the impact of repeated infections. So there’s no respite. And particularly not for those at the front line in hospitals who have to contend with rising case numbers. 

Returning briefly to holidays and international travel, Andrew Flood points to another very strange dynamic: Currently on my 2nd holiday involving a flight this year & the lack of n95 (or any mask) wearing by people flying out is weird. Getting symptoms mid holiday seems like something very worth while to reduce the odds of whatever about flying back /5

I was thinking about this in relation to a week off in Ireland later in the summer. The last thing I’d want is to come down with Covid away. I’d only been discussing how in advance of that it would make sense to wind down interactions a little. Why ruin a holiday, or worse? But what is the dynamic at play here? Why is it that people would board an aircraft (or a bus) or any public transport while travelling to or from abroad (and while there) and not wear a mask? What possible sense does that make? Moreover, why increase the possibility that aircrews might be impacted, leading to potential cancellation of the flight home?

UK Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act comes into law June 29, 2022

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George Monbiot noted this in the Guardian way back when but apparently next to no coverage today.

The new bill would enable the police to confiscate people’s vehicles (in other words their homes) on the mere suspicion of trespass. When their homes have been seized and their parents arrested, GRT children are likely to be taken into care. The police bill would deprive this minority of everything: homes, livelihoods, identity, culture, even their families.

And, like the homeless people trapped between the Vagrancy Act and the housing qualification, it would put people who are Gypsies, Roma and Travellers in an impossible position. To apply for an official pitch, you must demonstrate “proof of travelling”. But if you don’t have access to official pitches, travelling will put you outside the new law. In other words, it is not a particular behaviour that is being criminalised. It is the minority itself.

The new authoritarianism meshes with a very old one, that harks back to an imagined world in which the peasants could be neatly divided into villeins (good) and vagrants (bad), where everyone knew their place, geographically and socially. Of course, the demonisation of mobile people, whether Roma or asylum seekers, does not extend to the government ministers and newspaper editors who might shift between their pads in London and their second homes in Cornwall or Tuscany. It’s about the rich controlling the poor, as if democracy had never happened.

This from the Sunday World.


Many thanks to the person who sent the links.

History fail June 29, 2022

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Thanks to the person who sent me the link to this. For those of us interested in historical research this is of particular interest. Reading through those mentioned in the thread some familiar names who faced the same problem and a point made about how this impacted on historical research on fundamental areas of the development of the polities on the island.

Promoting freedom and democracy. Poverty? Not so much. June 29, 2022

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This from the Guardian notes that with the merger of the UK Foreign Office with the Department for International Developments there’s a new emphasis from Foreign Secretary Liz Truss:

Liz Truss told the committee that in the past she thought the aid budget was not sufficiently focused “on promoting freedom and democracy” and she said some aid money would now be spent on a G7 initiative intended to challenge China’s Belt and Road initative.

Truss insisted alleviating suffering was still a priority for aid spending, but the Independent’s Rob Merrick was not convinced.

Fascinating to see the implications of all this in practical terms. For example, humanitarian aid has been slashed.

UK direct humanitarian aid to foreign countries was £744m last year, compared with £1.53bn in 2020, a cut of 51%, according to the most recent provisional UK aid figures. UK official development assistance was nearly £11.5bn last year, compared with £14.48bn in 2020, a fall of 21%.

And:

Separate figures published in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) annual report last year revealed direct UK aid and planned aid to Ethiopia fell from £241m in 2020/21 to £108m in 2021/22, a cut of 55%; aid to Kenya fell from £67m to £41m, a cut of 39%; and aid to Somalia fell from £121m to £71m, a cut of 41%.

One of the largest global humanitarian crises is in Yemen, devastated by eight years of civil war. About 24 million people need help, including nearly 13 million children. UK aid to Yemen fell from £221m 2020/21 to £82m in 2021/22, a cut of 63%.

And just on the promotion of freedom and democracy. Can Truss call it like it is?

Back at the foreign affairs committee Chris Bryant (Lab) told Liz Truss she said the government wanted to end its reliance on authoritarian regimes for energy. “How would you describe the Gulf states?” he asked.

Truss said she would regard them as partners of the UK.

When Bryant put it to her that Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, was responsible for Jamal Khashoggi, and that Saudi Arabia had carried out 81 executions in one day, Truss said it was an important partner for the UK. “We’re not dealing with a perfect world,” she said, although she did not accept Bryant’s request to accept that the country was authoritarian.

She also claimed that she did raise human rights issues with the Gulf states. But when Bryant asked her to tell the committee the last time she did raise a human rights issue with a Gulf state leader, she said she would have to get back to the committee with the answer.

So the answer is, apparently she can’t call it like it is. 

What you want to say –29th June 2022 June 29, 2022

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

Scotland’s independence referendum June 28, 2022

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This should be interesting. Later today a statement is to be issued by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Nicola Sturgeon will explain later how she plans to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence.

The first minister will make a statement in the Scottish Parliament shortly after 14:00 BST.

She is expected to lay out her plan for holding a lawful vote in October next year, with or without the formal consent of UK ministers.

She has noted already that the re-election of the SNP and the Scottish Green Party as pro-independence parties forming the Scottish Government points to a democratic mandate for calling such a referendum. 

Entertainingly:

The UK government has held firm its view that “now is not the time” for another referendum.

And:

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack has said he does not consider the pro-independence majority at Holyrood a mandate because “less than a third of the electorate” voted for the SNP.

All fascinating when one compares and contrasts with how matters pertain in Northern Ireland with respect to the Protocol or Brexit. Apparently democratic mandates are protean things, assuming the shape of whatever necessity is defined by Tories. 

Civil War June 28, 2022

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This from Independent Dublin Republicans whose campaign to commemorate Republicans killed during the Civil War is discussed here.

A group of independent republicans and local historians in Dublin have come together to mark the centenary of the Civil War. They have identified 70 republicans who were killed in the capital from June 1922 to late 1923. Posters have been designed and will be erected at the site where each individual was killed or fatally wounded in the run-up to their anniversary. The first series of posters were erected today in advance of the 100th anniversary of the shelling of the Four Courts (28 June 1922) and the ensuing Battle of Dublin which lasted until 05 July 1922.

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