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A window on the 1983 referendum May 22, 2018

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Want a sense of what it was like in ’83? I can recommend people no further than Politics.ie and its rather less than cheerful and engaging threads on abortion. Proborts, baby killers, etc, the rhetoric is all there, as well as absolute and adamant certainty. Savita’s death was not a function of the 8th is one trope that is aired time and again – as well as worse one’s, much much worse in relation to her.

There’s no nuance, and little or no acknowledgement of grey areas or contingency in all this.
What’s most interesting is that the anti-abortion commenters outnumber those pro-choice by at least three or four to one. Kudos to JRG in particular for flying the flag of the left-choice position there – it’s a lonely enough fight.

Still, the thought struck me as I scanned these threads, is this what – under the somewhat more emollient anti-abortion campaign, people on that side, at least the hard core of those who adhere to that position, really think? And if so what does that tell us about the manner in which the society has changed in the intervening years and about the capacity for them to change in the future?

Not much lamppost space left? May 21, 2018

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Pat Leahy wrote…

We’re into the final week of this long and divisive campaign. Just a few days remain until repealers and retainers alike hold their breath and wait for the result of the referendum on the Eighth Amendment.
Both sides have a packed agenda for the week. Public attention, however, will likely focus on the television debates on Tuesday (RTÉ) and Wednesday (TV3).
Canvassing and campaign events will be stepped up by both sides. Most of the posters are printed, and if they’re not up already, they will be soon. There’s not much lamppost space left, while campaigners on both sides sound exhausted.

Nah, there’s loads left.

A conservative working class, a rural/urban divide – not so fast… May 21, 2018

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https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/abortion-referendum-hardening-views-on-the-doorsteps-1.3500159

There’s a default assumption amongst some on the right that working class areas are… well, let John McGuirk take it away:

John McGuirk, spokesman for Save the Eighth, has said that No might not be so dominant in rural Ireland any more but, against that, might do better in Dublin than many expect – particularly in long-established neighbourhoods with older demographics.

Hmmm… could he mean the working class – or working class and lower middle class? Some certainly do. For them the working class double often as a sort of repository of traditionalism, of small c conservatism. Sometimes that is correct, often though it is not. And it always unlikeable to see the working class drafted in to do the heavy lifting for others as if it has no consciousness of its own. But then there’s this:

That rural urban divide is no longer so stark. Trish Carroll moved from Dublin to Castlecomer 25 years ago. She considered keeping the job she had in Dublin but the road network then made it impossible. Now motorways mean Dublin is little over an hour away.

Once upon a time when John Waters was a thoughtful observer of Irish society he wrote about how it was difficult to make clearcut assumptions about people – and noted choice advocates in rural Ireland and anti-abortion campaigners in Ballymun (IIRC). His point being that societies are complex – and Irish society no less than any other…

Politics and media and referendums May 21, 2018

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Reading some comments on threads on Politics.ie at the weekend I noticed a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth at the fact that the polls had remained stubbornly unmoving for NO, despite, as the commentors saw it, the ‘win’ at the RTÉ debate during that seven days. Some fairly complex theories were put forward, the polls had been too early or spread across insufficient days to take into account the results of the debate which they believed would see a swing to NO.

And yet, it seems to me that there’s a fundamental misapprehension at the heart of such analyses. Because I don’t think that debates, or indeed a fair bit of PR, does have quite that effect. It’s not that it has no effect – but that the effects are marginal, or more marginal than some believe. And consider this, how much impact do leaders debates have? Of course it’s difficult to untangle that in a multi-constituency PRSTV election. Okay. So what about US Presidential debates? That said, if a candidate didn’t turn up they’d be in trouble, but we saw at the last election how relatively little effect there was on the broad dynamics of the election.

And while the Irish Times on their podcast suggested that the debate was one of the significant events of the week in the campaign I’ve been dubious.

It never struck me that the RTÉ debate would ‘swing’ this referendum. And the bits and pieces I’ve viewed of the debate didn’t change my mind in that regard. Again, some marginal effect might take place, but abortion is an issue where attitudes are much more deeply rooted whether for or against, across years now. Moreover for all that the NO side seemed more coherent (though, on a slight tangent, hardly any less middle class than the YES side), the shouting and so on might well have worked against them. Assuming that it functioned in quite that way. Indeed another way of looking at this is that no one in that room would come away with their mind changed, and the audience certainly seemed to one made of of distinct blocs who had strong feelings about the issue. So, if that was true of there…why would it be different outside the studio? Sure, those there were perhaps the most committed. But this is a society where this issue has been debated on and off for four decades. That’s a lot of history, a lot of debate. And not a lot of room for people to change their minds.

This is not to suggest that YES couldn’t lose… it is possible that it could, if there was an accentuating swing against it. But, those polls again look reasonably consistent. Again attitudes have developed in regard to the issue across decades for many and years for some. It would be wrong to say that win or lose the result was baked in from the off. But perhaps not entirely wrong.

Left Archive: Workers Briefing: Journal of Socialist Democracy, Summer 2000 May 21, 2018

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To download the above please click on the following link. sd-doc-2000.pdf

Please click here to go the Left Archive.

After a decade or so of posts to the Archive it is now somewhat rare to have materials from a group not already a part of the collection. But many thanks to Michael Carley for forwarding this document from Socialist Democracy, which was, as the Archive notes ‘established as the successor to People’s Democracy in the mid-1990s on foot of the Irish Committee for a Marxist Programme. It is affiliated to the Fourth International’.

This eight page journal dating from Summer 2000 has a wide range of articles but the lead is on the ‘announcement by the IRA that a number of its arms dumps had been inspected and sealed by international inspectors’. The publication argues that this is tantamount to a ‘final surrender’ but that’ the real surrender of their movement was a political surrender and took place long ago. For a movement whose leadership has accepted partition, the unionist veto, British occupation and the return of a Stormont parliament a few guns are nothing, all the more so when a dejected and weary base of supporters have gradually demobilised’.

And it argues that IRA militarism was a constituent element in what it characterises as ‘its downfall’.

Other pieces discuss the ‘myth of moderate unionism’. There’s a piece by Dave Bangs ‘first carried in our sister paper in Britain, Socialist Outlook’. There is a very strong welcome for the arrival in Dáil Éireann of Seamus Healy at the Tipperary South by-election. And a further deeply critical article on ‘The ANC and the Irish Peace Process’.

One interesting aspect of the document is that it doesn’t outline broad Socialist Democracy policies, but asks those interested to contact at its Belfast PO Box.

A most interesting document and a welcome addition to the Archive.

Huh? Does this describe the referendum from an Irish perspective? May 20, 2018

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The polls have narrowed so much that a result once nearly taken for granted now hangs in the balance; the media are under fierce attack for bias; and questions are swirling about foreign influence and online ads.As Ireland heads into the last week of campaigning for its historic referendum on abortion, the long shadow of two recent surprise election results – the Brexit referendum across the Irish sea, and Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 US presidential poll – is hanging over Irish voters.

Polls on referendum… May 20, 2018

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SBP/RedC

56% Yes +3

27% No +1

14% DK

And:

ST/B&A

52% Yes. +5

24% No -5

19% DK. -2

5% Won’t vote or won’t say. +2

Broadly in line with other polls during the last three months – all the talk of ‘game-changers’ appears to be entirely (and perhaps predictably) incorrect. No room for complacency but a solid base.

Sunday and the Week’s Media and other Stupid Statements… May 20, 2018

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From a piece in the Irish Times…

The debate is not about maternal healthcare in Ireland, do not be fooled. It is an ideological question: do you really want abortion on demand at least up to 12 weeks? Do you really want to give carte blanche to your Government for abortions up to 6 months’ gestation? Legalising abortion will inevitably and inexorably create a general malaise in Irish society, at every level, in every family, between neighbours, in medical facilities, everywhere.

This was written by a French academic working in UCC.

To which one person makes the very sensible response BTL:

Why doesn’t Ireland already have this French malaise? If this is what inevitably comes from access to abortion, why is it not here already? For the last 50 years, Ireland has had abortion on demand for those who can afford to travel to the UK, Netherlands and elsewhere. And women have travelled in their thousands every year to have abortions. Most of the rest of Europe provides abortion for women who want it – the French situation described in this article is certainly not true of the whole of Europe. Is it even true of France?

And a referendum is always an opportunity to try out the old tricks…

The Save the Eighth campaign has defended a booklet delivered to 200,000 households which has the appearance of an official Government publication.

Asked if the booklet was masquerading as an official Government publication, Mr McGuirk disputed this.
“I don’t think it does,” he said. “It states, this is what you’re being asked to vote on . . . We don’t think it’s dishonest or misleading.”

The authors, he said, had “tried to make it as impartial as possible”.

Tthat’s a lot of booklets and have to wonder if the supposed focus on the online social media area was going to be quite as strong as has been made out when FB and Google kind of sort of pulled the plug!

This after Theresa May’s reported comments to Jacob Rees-Mogg that she ‘would not be as confident as you [that a border poll on the North would be won by unionists]’ and renewed calls for precisely such a poll.

TUV leader Jim Allister said he saw no indications that “anything approaching the statutory test” was being met”.
“People know what side there bread is buttered being part of the world’s fifth largest economy rather than joining an EU dependent Irish republic,” he said.

And missed this last year, but it’s been floating around the last few days online. Worth watching the part where an incredulous Eamonn Mallie takes Ruth Dudley Edwards for her ‘analysis’ of leading figures in SF. Highly entertaining.

SBP/RedC Poll May 19, 2018

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Referendum poll out in the printed version which I haven’t yet seen, but there’s a political poll too…

FG 34 +2

FF 25 NC

SF 16 +2

OTHER IND 9 -4

LP 6 NC

IA 4 +2

SOL-PBP 3 +1

SD 1 -1

GP 2 NC

RENUA (!) 0 -1

All within the MOE bar Other Independents.

DOC links to a Sunday Independent poll which has some interesting figures:

Fine Gael 30% (-3)
Sinn Fein 24% (+3)
Fianna Fail 23% (-2)

Other IND 10 (+2)

Labour Party 2pc (-2) !!!
IA 3% (+1)
Solidarity-PBP 2% (+1)
Green Party 2% (nc)
Social Democrats 1% (nc)

Stones don’t sell out… their tickets… May 19, 2018

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What oh what could be the reason that “[it] seems that fewer punters than expected will be spending the night together with the ageing rockers this Thursday.”

Surely there couldn’t be a clue in the following?

The concert is the first date of the band’s second leg of the No Filter tour. When launched back in March, tickets went on sale at € 70.45 for standing, up to € 181 for “gold standard” seats. A further lot of “pit standing” tickets also went on sale for €456.

Aren’t those extraordinary prices for a ticket?

I met a few people who had been and they enjoyed the gig. They said it wasn’t crowded. So perhaps this is the best of both worlds!

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