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Interview with Eoghan Murphy TD October 26, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

In the latest edition of Hot Press, conducted by Jason O’Toole. A very educative one too. Is Murphy, a remarkably youthful 34 and junior Finance Minister at that, positioning himself as a liberal alternative to potential rivals? Hard not to be believe it, given the concentration on social issues by him.

He’s against the Swedish model in relation to prostitution – that is arresting men who pay for sex and argues that:

We don’t have the resources to police prostitution. We don’t have the resources to police the women in prostitution. We definitely don’t have the resources to police the people who are purchasing, because it’s obviously a much larger number. I don’t see it as a solution.

He is pro-repeal of the 8th and pro-choice. And this is an interesting way to answer a comment in regard to transgender equality which offers – I guess, a rather liberal view of the world.

What are your thoughts on transgender equality?
It was a coffee shop that served alcohol – a daytime place. Frequenting a lady boy bar is how this might sound – and I’m afraid I’m just not cool or dangerous enough for that kind of life! To be totally honest, it’s not something (transgender) I understand a huge amount. I don’t have any transgender friends. But it’s important that everyone’s happy. That’s the most important thing – that people are happy and healthy, right? The government is there to support happiness and to make sure you’re able to be happy and be free, you know? One of the main responsibilities of the State is to protect the minority against the majority. [my italics – was] So, transgender people are definitely in the minority and we’ve got a responsibility to protect them and make sure that they have the same rights as everyone.

But what of politics (and by the way his own path into politics was an unusual one, it quite literally involved a chance meeting with one E. Kenny)?

Any regrets about the budget?
One of my regrets is that we didn’t increase the excise on cigarettes by more. I used to love a cigarette with a pint. I still crave for them sometimes. But they are just killers and the destruction they cause to people’s lives is terrible. We just need to tax them out of existence. Also, we should probably get rid of any VAT on condoms. They say the evidence doesn’t support the idea that this might lead to more condoms being used. I know education has a lot to do with it. Still, condoms would be free ideally, and available everywhere. Too many people are taking too many risks these days.

Hmmm… anything worries the Junior Minister about say any other policy?

As junior finance minister, you’ve an active role to play in the Apple tax controversy. What is your take on this €13-15 million tax demand? I don’t think it
should happen. It’s hard not to think that there’s a political motivation behind it – there’s politics in everything. But it’s a power grab by the (European) Commission to interfere with our domestic taxation affairs – and that’s wrong.
Is the fear that the EU is going to attempt to impinge on our tax policy generally?
No. The European Union can’t. I think this part of what the problem with the debate in the UK
was over Brexit – people were raising fears over the kind of powers the EU has, when it doesn’t have them.

And so it goes. He may be somewhat off message on the aforementioned social issues, but what is his position on the economics? He doesn’t say. One has the feeling that he is deliberately schooled not to.

It’s genuinely interesting both for what is said, and what isn’t.

By the way, this is great…

Are you an atheist?
I think I’m agnostic, but I don’t know.


Media ownership questions at the Independent group? Deploy the anti-SF/anti-socialist/anti-British/anti-liberal/anti-colonial card, quick sharp! October 26, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Fintan O’Toole’s article on the new report issued by Sinn Féin and compiled by an independent panel of lawyers on media ownership is pretty good. So good in fact that I’d recommend everyone read it.

But one thing it points up is the self-serving approach of Independent newspapers who will simultaneously play the anti-SF/anti-socialist/anti-British/anti-liberal/anti-colonial card (that’s quite some card – isn’t it?) in trying to rubbish anything that might cause them the slightest discomfort. As he notes, a subject worthy of a special feature in the SBP, articles in the IT, further articles in Guardan and the Sunday Times evinced nothing but minor comment in the SI. As O’Toole notes:

This is all perfectly legitimate opinionising, if not especially impressive reasoning. The essential point, however, is that the sum total of the information presented on this event in the Independent papers on Sunday and Monday was to the effect that Shinners, Brits, liberals and socialists (a range of targets for contempt to suit every taste) have produced a tiresome document that you, the reader, don’t need to know about.  

And what of the effects of this sort of stuff. Worth looking at the two comments below his piece (two by Tuesday lunchtime) to see the sort of sterile groupthink from some in regard to these issues. That whooshing sound we hear is the point going right over their heads.

The ties that bind… October 26, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

This column by Ian Jack in the Guardian is thought-provoking. Jack has problems with English nationalism. Well, don’t we all? But he is himself originally from Scotland – or rather has a self-perception of himself as having a Scottish identity in part, and yet a penny seems to have dropped for him in the way of the Brexit referendum.

The tragedy of the first world war bred a distrust of nationalism among many of my parents’ generation, and increased the appeal of the internationalism offered by socialist groups such as the Independent Labour party. Enhancing that broad philosophy, in my parents’ particular case, was the experience of migrating from lowland Scotland to northern England, where they preferred to be seen as themselves – individuals who happened to be from Scotland – rather than as émigrés announcing a group identity with spectacular enthusiasms such as kilt-wearing and Highland dancing.


As to our own national identity, I suppose we thought of ourselves as British/Scottish, but the question hardly came up. By the time I was old enough to take an interest in such things we were living back in Scotland, not far from a Royal Navy dockyard. Sailors with English accents filled the dancehalls, the cinemas, the buses and the pubs. Still, nobody thought of them as “the English”: their accents didn’t make them different people to us, culturally and politically. It may even be that we saw them as a norm, the standard British issue, the straightforward types in British films where actors from Scotland, Ireland and Wales took the character parts.

That’s really interesting point isn’t it? Consider how that played out. Of course Englishness in Ireland was much more contested. Of course accents didn’t make differences,but actual political structures did.


Of course, to be British had once been a braggart identity. Some of that boastfulness, rekindled by the coronation, dimmed by Suez and kept alive by war films, survived into the 1960s. But then, in the century’s last decades, “British” as a self-description began to offer something else. With fewer connotations of blood and soil than the growing nationalisms of the United Kingdom’s constituent parts, it had room for newcomers from abroad and for people like me who found its capaciousness and slackness attractive. Here was a civic nationalism that meandered attractively like an old river, its dangerous force spent far upstream.


Constitutional devolution and the strength, in particular, of the Scottish independence movement provided serious threats, but in the Scottish referendum campaign of 2014 many people, including me, argued for the preservation of Britain as a state and British as an identity; and of the people who voted, 55% agreed.

But now:

I’m now much less sure. What Britishness went on concealing until very recently – like a host body with a very large grub inside, struggling to emerge – was Englishness. The England/Britain confusion has existed for centuries: all kinds of people, ranging from London dockers through foreign diplomats to writers such as George Orwell, imagined that the terms were coterminous and interchangeable. (Glasgow was “the centre of the intelligence of England” according to the Grand Duke Alexis, who attended the launch of his father Tsar Alexander II’s steam yacht there in 1880.)

I can’t help but feel there’s another aspect to this. Britishness was a badge that newer communities could assemble around. One striking figure from the Brexit referendum was how black and other communities were overwhelmingly in favour of Remain (along with the epitome of the new – the young). For them, for many others, it was detached from an Englishness that was in many of its outward manifestations backward looking, exclusivist, nativist. Where it had political expression it was a problematic one, at best.

The separatist movements of Scotland and Wales began to dent this idea in England, but the English response was slow. A competing English nationalism was at first confined to fringe meetings about the West Lothian question and a campaign for an English parliament. Then came the rise of Nigel Farage’s Ukip, the Tory strategy for dealing with it and that strategy’s failure in the EU referendum. We have come to where we are – which is to say that English nationalism has found its opportunity, and is taking us out of Europe.

Of course there’s a problem. The UK is an utterly imbalanced federation. Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland might well be constituent parts but their ability to exercise autonomy is – as Irish nationalism understood and attempted to push back against across centuries – utterly circumscribed by the sheer weight of numbers in England. Ironic, is it not, that ‘swamping’ actually exists but not in the form that those who most use that term would comprehend. Jack is on to something here too:

The prospects it offers are fantastical, outdoing anything the Scottish National party promised even in its most romantic period. English exceptionalism has flared up: we are a great country, there is nowhere else like us, we shall lead the world in free trade, we shall sell ginger snaps to the North Koreans. On Thursday night on the BBC I heard Conrad Black, the disgraced Canadian newspaper publisher, evoke “this sceptred isle” in a little speech that drew applause from his audience in Hartlepool.

The notion of Brexit as a popular victory is confined almost entirely to the English, albeit that its prominent cheerleaders include Liam Fox and (in the past) Michael Gove. Its ramifications are troubling for Scotland and particularly severe for Northern Ireland.

But then that’s the reality of “Britain”. It is impossible to conceive of a union where there isn’t this imbalance, this tilt (even were we to throw in the millions on this island it still wouldn’t alter matters). For all the lip service paid to said union in truth it is London and England that decides. Always has been.

As to the future?

I’m not sure I feel the same level of anger and alienation. Neither, of course, do I share the average east European migrant’s uncertainty over his or her future. But my sense of belonging is a little less, and I have a slight (and perhaps slightly embittering) feeling of betrayal – similar in kind though not in scale to those loyal communities in the old empire such as the Anglo-Indians, who came to believe in the end that they had hitched their fortunes to the wrong star. “A family with the wrong members in control – that, perhaps, is as near as one can come to describing England in a phrase,” wrote Orwell in 1941, and this autumn it has never seemed truer.

An English nationalism in full flower, even if still part concealed by the rhetoric of union, is a rather ugly thing. I say that as someone with an English heritage. But more importantly it is something that as history has told us is ultimately centrifugal in its political effects. Ireland, or part of it, is testament to that. Someday Scotland, then perhaps Wales.

That disunited Kingdom October 26, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Whatever one’s views on Brexit this surely must be of great concern, the reports back from the meeting the heads of the devolved government’s in the UK had with T. May.

Nicola Sturgeon:

“I don’t know any more now about the UK government’s approach to the EU negotiations than I did before I went in to the meeting,” she said. “At the moment, it doesn’t seem to me like there is a UK negotiating strategy, which is one of the sources of great frustration.”

Carwyn Jones:

“nothing concrete came out of the meeting and I am none the wiser as to what her proposals are”.
“The problem seems to be that they don’t know what to do next,” he said, adding that May had declined a direct opportunity to reassure him that businesses would continue to trade without tariffs with the rest of the EU.

Interestingly Martin McGuiness was focusing on the need to avoid a hard border on the island and Arlene Foster was a lot more positive in regard to the overall process.

This is class, from Sturgeon:

Earlier, the prime minister’s official spokeswoman said Ms May wanted a united negotiating position, with a single set of arrangements applying to all parts of the UK. And she warned the leaders of the devolved administrations against any actions which could undermine the UK’s negotiating position.
“I’m not seeking to undermine anyone, I don’t know what the UK’s negotiating position is, so there’s nothing there that I can see to undermine,” Ms Sturgeon said after the meeting.

What you want to say – 26th October 2016 October 26, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

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

Waste story… October 26, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

A small snippet of a story in the SBP at the weekend noted that:

The government is under intense pressure… to establish a full-scale inquiry into alleged anti-competitive practices in the waste management sector, after fresh whistleblower claims were passed to senior minsters and the competition watchdog.


It is understood that the claims were passed to FF housing, planning and local government TD Barry Cowen..

And Cowen notes that those who make the claims are willing to step forward.

How about this for a couple of sentences?

The allegations relate to barriers to entry, market concentration and price collusion. There is no suggestions of wrong doing or illegal behaviour on behalf of any operator in the waste collection industry.

Well now.

It is, many of us I suspect feel, long past time that a cold eye was cast on this particular area.

Ireland and the Spanish Republic. Speaker: Dr Sean Byers. (Part 3) October 25, 2016

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.
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Today also marks the Anniversary of the murder of Peter Graham
A Red Mole report from November, 1971 on a memorial meeting by the International Marxist Group for Peter Graham. Who was assassinated in a flat in the Stephen’s Green area of Dublin on 25, October 1971 at the age of twenty-six. Graham was the representative of the Fourth International in Ireland.

US Elections: Politico podcast October 25, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

I’ve come to this late, but got to say I’m impressed by its granular analysis. I’m also listening to the Ken Rudin political podcast, Slate’s Trumpcasts, and a range of others intermittently.

One great point made on the Politico podcast was the sense that all the wikileaks stuff on Clinton isn’t merely not making a splash due to the car crash that is Trump, but that it came at the wrong time. Had it dropped months ago it would have been a gift to Sanders. And yet drop it didn’t.

Free trade at any cost October 25, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Stephen Collins must be conflicted these days. As a voice of the orthodoxy to see that orthodoxy splinter into different strands must be quite disturbing. One can tell by his tone in his latest IT column that he is aghast at not just Brexit (understandably) but that the Tory party… well, let me quote him:

Theresa May and her main negotiators have made it abundantly clear they have no interest in doing the kind of deal with the EU that would minimise the fallout on both sides.
If anything, they are committed to making things as bad as they can possibly be in the arrogant belief that the 27 remaining EU states have as much to lose as they have from a UK exit from the single market and the EU customs union.
The fact that they don’t appear to have any coherent plan is only making things worse. The recent Conservative Party conference amply justified “the stupid party” tag which first surfaced in Victorian times.

Now as someone who has never expected better from the Tories this isn’t quite the surprise to me that it seems to be to him. But be that as it may, where this leads is…

That leaves the Irish Government with a cruel dilemma. If the British government is intent on making things as hard as possible for everybody, there is no longer any percentage for this country arguing for a good deal for our nearest neighbour.

None of which I disagree with really.

But further on there’s a telling couple of lines by him:

The potential difficulties involved in negotiating the UK exit deal are illustrated by the problems that have arisen with the trade deal between the EU and Canada because the French-speaking Wallonia region of Belgium has voted against it.
That puts into perspective the potential problems of getting a Brexit deal acceptable to all 27 member states plus a variety of regions who have a veto in their countries’ federal arrangements.
Incidentally, a motion opposing the trade deal with Canada passed by the Seanad recently, because Fianna Fáil abstained inexplicably, is another signal about just how difficult it can be to sell international agreements to a public increasingly suspicious of institutions that represent authority.


Ireland is utterly dependent for its prosperity on free trade. If spurious objections can be found to a trade deal with Canada, one of the model democracies on the planet, then what hope is there for other international trade deals?

What’s fascinating is his implicit belief that international trade deals are essentially positive, come what may. It’s not even as if there’s a balance between positive and negative aspects – nope, it’s just a given in his case. Telling.

CLR Book Club – Week 9 October 25, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

What news? What reports?

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