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Hold on there Boris, isn’t that your job? September 28, 2016

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Is the thought that comes to mind reading this report that Boris Johnson has said…

The British government cannot allow the process of opening formal negotiations for Britain to leave the European Union to “drag on”….

And:

“There is obviously Euro elections coming down the track,” he told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show.

“I think people will be wondering whether we want to be sending a fresh batch of UK Euro MPs to that institution which, after all, we are going to be leaving. So let’s get on with it.”

And then last night we have this:

Liam Fox has used a speech to the World Trade Organisation to portray post-Brexit Britain as a “proud and outward-looking trading nation” that would battle for liberalised commerce outside the EU.

The address in Geneva was billed in advance as the international trade secretary making a significant push for a so-called hard Brexit, taking the UK outside the EU’s single market. However, critics said the lack of any new details on the terms of Brexit indicated confusion in the government over the issue.

They haven’t a clue. They really don’t.

When does Kenny leave? September 28, 2016

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Thanks to the person who forwarded this written by Archon of the Southern Star.

Jim Daly TD (Cork South West constituency) and Brendan Griffin TD (Kerry) often feature in journalistic dispatches that pose the question if Enda Kenny really has a tomorrow’s world. And the focus is always the same: when will he throw in the towel and give up being leader of the party? The two politicos have no answer.
But they’re not alone. Contenders for his job, Ministers Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney share the lack of knowledge. Yet, although the search for an option to Kenny leads to much meeja discussion, the topic does not seem to have grabbed the attention of rank and file Fine Gael supporters in the same way that it engages ambitious aspirants to high public office.
The man in the street, the punter in Dinty’s, couldn’t care less. He/she only begins to take notice when a wannabe-taoiseach, who previously lurked in the gloom, jumps out and gives the challengers for Kenny’s job the fright of their lives.
Someone like the Lady Macbeth of non-malignant politics, Regina Doherty! Could she be in the running for the leadership? Possibly, even though she blotted her copybook by demanding that Inda should outline his timetable for departure.
Admonished her for imprudence (Varadkar described her intervention as ‘unhelpful’), Regina recanted and contritely declared with a fervour that would have impressed North Korea’s Kim Jong-un that she had ‘utter confidence in our Taoiseach’s leadership.’

Another dark horse is Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald whose cause is being advanced by the Minister for Children, America’s Katherine Zappone. She could well emerge as a compromise candidate should the complex debate between those supporting Vlad or Simon prove too knotty a problem for Blueshirt brains.
Of course, Fitzgerald also ‘remains fully committed to supporting Mr Kenny.’ Nonetheless, she doesn’t rule out becoming leader and, displaying a modesty as oily as that of Ms Doherty’s, recently declared that a leadership challenge wasn’t ‘her style.’
Oh, and the ‘Oirish’ Sunday Times floated the kite that Minister Paschal Donohoe (the Widow Twanky of Irish politics) might well be in the running. According to the Brits, Kenny and the awful Michael Noonan favoured him as their kind of guy. Clearly made of the right stuff, Donohoe was true blue, a safe pair of hands and conservative to the core.
Otherwise, say the meeja analysts, Kenny would not have promoted him three times since 2013. To the ordinary Joe Soap, that says something important about the exemplary qualities required for a Blueshirt leader.
Picking up the feelgood story, ‘De Paper’ gushed that FG could do an awful lot worse than select Donohoe. They said he was well read, smart, with a business background.
What’s more, his friendly manner had earned him respect across the floor of the Dáil.
As far as the ex-Old Lady of Academy Street was concerned, his outstanding virtues as transport minister included ‘staring down’ the unions on strike in Irish Rail and ‘showing a steady hand’ in his handling of the sale of Aer Lingus, ‘which had the potential to become politically toxic.’
What a CV! What an endorsement! No doubt about it: he’s the man for the job!
And, while all that is happening, pressure is mounting on Kenny to give a sign, if only to counteract the impact of several bolshie backbenchers at a FG parliamentary party who impudently asked him to clarify when he intended to leave for pastures new.
The hotbed of Blueshirt critics includes John Deas,y who in 2012 pulled no punches when he declared that people in Fine Gael were ‘disgusted’ with how the party was being run, and that there was a fear of punishment within the parliamentary party if people did not the toe the line. Four years later, to judge by the ongoing rumblings, not much has changed.

Because, while Kenny cryptically might suggest that he might step aside before the next election, he also said that it was his declared intention to see out the full term in government as leader of Fine Gael. It’s a stance that does not impress the ‘constitutionally discontented,’ namely those TDs who see polls indicating that 69% of FG supporters want Kenny to go now (July Red C Poll).
Or the Ipsos-MRBI poll which shows Vlad enjoying 31% of public support; Coveney trailing on 21%, while the laconic Fitzgerald can only muster 10%.
Needless to say, the traditional red herring has begun to be thrown around: that is to say some power-hungry politicos depict Kenny as a danger to their chances of re-election. Kenny, they cruelly observe, is like an ancient malodorous relative, hogging the kitchen fire, and who won’t do the decent thing and bugger off.
Question is, where does that leave local lad, Jim Daly? Well, it was not without significance that Vlad the Protection Minister was in Skibbereen recently for the opening of Daly’s new constituency office.
The combination of the two was a sign of the times, although not entirely unpredictable after Daly’s challenge at the Newbridge ‘think-in’ earlier this month. He said the party had to discuss the party leadership, and soon.
Yet, galling for the dissidents is the possibility that Kenny may try to stay in power until well into 2017, at least until May 6th, the first anniversary of the formation of his minority government.
Reinforcing such a likely state of affairs is Kenny’s announcement at the ‘think-in’ that he was planning a reshuffle of ministers next year.
That really threw the cat among the pigeons!

To make matters worse, Kenny also disclosed that he was arranging a ‘shadowing programme’ involving senior government ministers and backbenchers.
Humble rank and file TDs would spend an arranged period of time ‘shadowing’ the big boys, the ministers, in order to learn what it is like to serve in Cabinet. A torrent of ridicule greeted Kenny’s proposal, with some dissidents suggesting that in fact he was taunting them at the very time they were hugger-muggering about tabling a ‘no confidence’ motion in him.
Ironically, for those with long memories, the ‘shadowing’ plan was reminiscent of the party’s very much discredited JobBridge scheme whereby unemployed people got work experience and €50 on top of the dole.
West Cork’s Jim Daly had been a most enthusiastic proponent of JobBridge, describing it to this newspaper as ‘a win-win scheme for the unemployed to get a chance to work whilst availing of training and upskilling.’
But Daly certainly did not have in mind this particular version of the JobBridge thing! In Kenny’s hands, it looks like Batman is foiling the Joker’s wicked plots! Which is a touch of class from the Taoiseach – and goes to show there’s life in the old dog yet!
And his message to the malcontents? The Dear Leader will not be moved easily!

They still don’t get it… September 28, 2016

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An article in the Guardian notes a report from care charities in the UK that suggests that post-Brexit:

According to modelling by the charities, a scenario which closed off all migration would leave Britain with a social care workforce shortfall of more than a million by 2037. In a low-migration scenario this would still mean a 750,000 shortfall. Even under a high-migration scenario, the care sector would still face a workforce shortage of 350,000 because of the likely dramatic increase in the population needing care, the charities said.
London and the south-east would be worst hit by a post-Brexit shortage of care workers, with one in nine of the capital’s care workers at risk of losing their right to work in the UK.

But the response from the UK government?

A government spokesperson said: “The prime minister has been clear that she wants to protect the status of EU nationals already living here, and the only circumstances in which that wouldn’t be possible is if British citizens’ rights in European member states were not protected in return.”

But that’s not the answer to the questions raised by the report. It’s not about who is in the UK today, but who will be in the UK in 2020, or 2025 or indeed 2037. And moreover:

Staff turnover and vacancy rates have risen sharply in the last decade, triggering fears that the safety and quality of social care would be affected. Ben Franklin, ILC-UK’s head of economics of ageing, said that as Britain’s population grew older, thousands more care workers were needed. “A continual failure to support and enhance the care workforce could result in thousands of frail and older people losing out on the proper care and support that they need.”

This is basic basic stuff about the care of a growing ageing population (I’m part of that in this state. Perhaps you are too. You may well be by 2037). Yet on something so basic, so obviously problematic there’s no real response.

How will those needs be met? Hard to tell when one reads the following:

The UK has become increasingly dependent on a European migrant workforce to provide services for its ageing population since 2012, when the coalition government changed immigration rules, making it more difficult for non-EEA people to enter the UK to work in social care.

You don’t say! September 28, 2016

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The Government believes that Fianna Fáil’s economic credibility could be at stake when a motion on the abolition water charges is considered in the Dáil today.

Why so?

A Sinn Féin proposal to permanently scrap the levies, which were suspended for a period of nine months as part of Fianna Fáil’s deal with Fine Gael to support a minority Government on certain matters, is to come before the House.
Fianna Fáil has agreed to vote against the motion despite being in favour of eliminating the charges.

Twisting this way and that…

What you want to say – 28th September 2016 September 28, 2016

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

Another five or six months? September 27, 2016

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Until Brexit is triggered, according to Enda Kenny…

The Taoiseach also said he is finalising plans to convene an all-Ireland conversation following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union.

Responding to Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, who asked when the “national conversation” would take place, the Taoiseach said it would be in November.

The group will include business people, members of civic society and political parties.

Mr Kenny later told the Dáil that he believes the British Prime Minister will trigger Article 50 towards the end of January or February.

Good show by TDs on the return to the Dáil in relation to Repeal the 8th. In the same article linked above entertaining to see that:

…clarification was sought from the Ceann Comhairle on emblems and items of clothing that express a political viewpoint being worn in the Oireachtas.

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaílsaid the matter would be discussed with the Business Committee and the Committee on Procedures.

CLR Book Club – Week 5 September 27, 2016

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Okay, book selected. How does this work from here on out? We read a chapter at a time or what?

Dublin Central? September 27, 2016

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All politics is local and given that the CLR has at times seemed to operate as an informal Dublin Central blog time to look in once more on the constituency. Anyone have thoughts on how the latest political dynamics impact on the constituency? Does the loss of a TD fro the SDs make their one potential shining light a bit dimmer? How about FF? Any chance they might slip in? What about the current Independent seat held by the tenacious Maureen O’Sullivan? SF? Topping the poll with a potential party leader next time out? And FG and the man with no ambition. So he says.

With Corbyn September 27, 2016

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Thanks to the person who sent this analysis from Tim Stanley in the Telegraph [!] in. Ignore the source and one will find it, I think, actually pretty good in relation to the dynamics extant across the last year. It notes that:

I started to feel, dare I say it, sympathy for the militants? They have spent generation after generation languishing on the backbenches – carrying the torch for an ideological socialism that Labour has pledged itself to but never actually delivered in government. Throughout all that time, they’ve caused trouble. But comrades like Corbyn have stuck with the party and worked for its candidates. Broadly speaking, they have accepted the principle of democratic centralism – that the party disagrees internally but speaks with one voice at election time. The Blairites insisted upon this to the point of authoritarianism.

But once they lost control… they:

…suddenly started to squeal about the importance of dissent. Cabinet members must be free to ridicule policy; MPs must be able to slag off the leader. Having done everything within their power to force Corbyn from office by making his position untenable, the moderates finally decided to launch a leadership bid against him – in the name of unity!

And this is particularly good.

They cried havoc and unleashed the Chihuahuas of War. Owen Smith. Owen. Smith. A good man, no doubt, and an intelligent one, certainly. Flashes of self-depreciating wit were obvious. But Owen Smith? As leader? As prime minister? His only definitive stance throughout the race was his insistence that Britain should stay in the EU even if the British people don’t actually want to. He managed an astonishing feat: he made Corbyn sound not only more democratic but more patriotic.

Whatever one’s views on the referendum outcome it is clear that a ‘re-run’ isn’t on the cards for a decade – and frankly nor should it be. So there’s some degree of truth in that. Moreover the lack of support for Smith from those who had started that ball rolling – well as Ed put it on this site, one would almost be sorry for him. Almost.

Here’s an interesting set of points.

What hurt the poor man more than his general air of inauthenticity was the impression that Corbyn has quietly grown in stature. In debates, Smith was supposed to come off as the moderate making a rational case for electability. But the more he ranted about racism and extremism, the more Corbyn – calm and often quite funny – came across as an elder statesman being unfairly traduced. That is this campaign’s greatest, most ironic legacy. It has helped Corbyn hone his skills. It has lent him authority.

Again let me quote (at this rate too many times) Michael White who predicted precisely this, albeit against a different Tory ‘team’. That Corbyn could well look like the quiet English town bank manager come in to clean up the Tories mess. I’ve no particular optimism that Corbyn will win the next election – never did (and I don’t think that that is his fault, I think that politically and demographically that would be an impossible task for any LP leader), but you know, perhaps the events of the last few weeks and months have closed the gap a little.

And what’s interesting is the way the following is framed:

Which makes him impossible to dislodge this side of a general election. Labour is now stuck with a leader who could do “this” or “that” and could benefit from “one thing” or “another” – and tiptoe into the orbit of potentially winning an election with a bit of luck. But millions of Britons just can’t vote for him under any circumstances. Why? Take your pick. For me, it was the day he commemorated dead IRA terrorists. Good grief, why couldn’t the moderates even beat that?

Good point in terms of the specific. But… there’s a problem with it too. Just as this polity has discovered it’s a lot more difficult to ignore people once they’ve laid down arms than might be imagined. And for those who argued some sort of engagement was necessary. Well, that’s not necessarily a minus.

A fake choice… September 26, 2016

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Conor Pope recently took readers of the Irish Times to task for not changing energy providers.

Irish consumers have collectively wasted close to €1 billion over the last five years by spending way more than necessary to heat and light their homes.
Now Pricewatch knows that number might sound absurdly inflated at first glance but, if anything, we are underestimating the nation’s wanton wastefulness when it comes to energy.

And:

But to make the savings, people need to switch, and a staggering number of Irish people don’t bother. According to figures from the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) more than half of Irish consumers have never switched their energy provider, while the numbers who have switched in the last 12 months is a whole lot smaller.
A less-comprehensive Pricewatch Twitter poll of more than 500 people last week echoed these numbers. We asked people if they switched provider annually, occasionally or never. Only 15 per cent said they switched annually, while 40 per cent said they had never switched provider.
They are all wasting money and just how much is really quite shocking.

I was fascinated by the fact that (at the time) there was only one comment. It went along these lines:

• UrbanSprawl
The author does not take into account the value consumers place on customer service. Having changed providers several times over the years, I have experienced middling to dreadful customer service from the cheaper providers. Incorrect bills, unauthorised deductions from my bank account, weeks and months of trying to engage with companies to have their mistakes rectified… I have been with my current provider for 3 years and am just not willing to take the risk of changing again, even if I could be saving €200 a year.

I’ve no idea whether that comment is an accurate outline of the situation, I’ve not had those problems – though getting the meter read is a nightmare which despite repeated requests to contact me re arranging an appointment no response. But I can’t help but think that Pope et al are missing the point. I don’t want to change my energy provider any more than I want the near continual calls from my mobile provider or similar from my internet provider in regard to ‘cheaper’ options. I don’t want the hassle. All I want is a good service that continues into the medium to long term. I’d vastly prefer if these were socialised services. But hey, that isn’t going to happen. Failing that I don’t want to be engaged in a sort of perpetual bidding process with energy or other providers. It seems a pointless and cosmetic exercise whose purpose appears more to justify the ‘liberalisation’ of a market for which the benefits of liberalisation are difficult to understand.

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