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Independents… August 20, 2019

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I enjoyed the interview with Finian McGrath on the IT politics podcast – he made a strong case for more media coverage of independents, and noted that they cover a spectrum from left to right. He himself clearly sees himself as radical and independent. Though one thing he did not address was one key aspect of almost all independents which is who they are answerable to other than voters (which oddly is rarely aired as an issue – we hear the usual gripes about fracturing and localism, but what about who their reference groups are or the fact many of them are effectively political sole traders with no links to broader groups). Is that going at any point to become an issue. Not likely.

He was particularly scathing of the lack of coverage during the local elections where independents candidates did very well noting that independent councillors or candidates don’t have recourse to party machines, and such like for publicity. Fair dues indeed to him so for being so unstinting in his praise of one independent councillor in his own backyard who was name-checked, by my count, three or four times!

Bleak August 20, 2019

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Bleak indeed the leaked UK government papers this weekend published in the Sunday Times on a no-deal Brexit. It paints a picture of…

…a three-month meltdown at its ports, a hard Irish border and shortages of food and medicine if it leaves the EU without a deal, according to government documents on Operation Yellowhammer.

And the response on this island has been measured, effectively saying that none of this comes as a significant surprise, and in truth is what many in Irish politics have been warning of for years now.

No doubt some or much of that is an accurate forecast, but EUreferendum does ask a key point… who leaked it and why? EUR suggests that they may be leaked in order that if initial outcomes are less worse they strengthen Johnson’s hand going into an immediate election since they can be dismissed as ‘project Fear’. That said he also notes that the report is hazy on food shortages, arguing both that they may occur or that they may not or that panic buying may occur on foot of fears. Which of course as he notes would trigger scarcities.

Not a very positive environment for Johnson to go to the UK in an election. So, quite a gamble faces him ahead.

Safety last August 20, 2019

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Mentioned the Observer earlier in the week and another piece from it at the weekend was particularly stark in terms of outlining what a future UK/US trade deal would look like post-Brexit. Phillip Inman pointed out that rightwing governments have long sought a cheap food/cheap energy policy approach in order to allow for tax cuts for the rich and deregulation – the idea being that when people are in work and if they have access to low cost food and energy then even quite stagnant wage increases are more ‘bearable’. And this is telling:

Free-trade ministers like Liz Truss, Dominic Raab and even the prime minister understand this too. Give the people low-cost food and lightly taxed energy and they won’t complain much when employers say the wage bill must be kept under control to maintain shareholder dividends and bosses’ bonuses. To a great extent, this urge to lower costs through tax cuts and deregulation was the motivation for the rich elite (on both sides of the Atlantic) to promote a clean break with the high-tax, regulation-heavy EU.

That should be no surprise, but the relevance to a UK/US trade deal is that:

Locked into the EU’s common agricultural policy, UK producers had some protection from foreign competition and prices were kept relatively high.

A trade deal with the US provides the opportunity to marry cheap energy to cheap food. However, the shift to cheap food involves a philosophical gear change, one that has been clear since the US started negotiations with the EU over trade under the Obama administration….The difference between the two sides centres on safety. US regulators believe the only test of food is whether it is safe or not. Beyond this, the state abdicates responsibility. If the consumer wants livestock to be treated decently, they can choose to pay the producer more.

And consequently any deal will “protect US corporations from consumer boycotts, and – in a nod to Benjamin Netanyahu – prevent boycotts of Israeli companies too. Along the same lines, big tech firms must be allowed to bundle products in the name of efficiency, giving them the room to build the monopolies that the EU has denied them.

Of course free marketeers like Truss, Raab and even Eustice, even if they can reconcile themselves to the destruction of much UK farming, will find this export of US protectionism hard to swallow (along with American chicken, which has rates of campylobacter infection 10 times higher than in the UK, despite the chlorine wash). But to achieve the goal of cheap food and cheap tech, swallow them they must.

There’s no way around that, and that is the unspoken compact. There are, needless to say spokes that can be thrust in the wheel. For example Inman notes that despite John Bolton’s proposing sector/industry specific deals domestic US lobbies such as the farm industry will not allow that sort of approach and they ‘put him right’ after his comments. Which is interesting if only because it suggests Bolton knows not that which he speaks of. But Inman seems pessimistic that UK consumers will feel exercised sufficiently to stymie any such deals.

Memorial garden August 20, 2019

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Front page of the Irish News the other day.

The smalls claims court is to hear a dispute over a west Belfast memorial garden dedicated to members of the Official IRA and Workers Party…The claim is for £3,000 to cover the cost of the items that it is alleged were removed from the original garden and not returned.

It is believed to be the first case of its kind involving a republican memorial garden.

1989 revisited: 19 August – East Germans cross the border in Hungary into Austria August 19, 2019

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The Pan-European Picnic (German: Paneuropäisches Picknick; Hungarian: páneurópai piknik) was a peace demonstration held on the Austrian-Hungarian border near Sopron, Hungary on 19 August 1989, the day before the Hungarian holiday commemorating Stephen I of Hungary. Part of the Revolutions of 1989 leading to the lifting of the Iron Curtain and the reunification of Germany, it was organised by the Paneuropean Union and the opposition Hungarian Democratic Forum under the sponsorship of Archduke Otto von Habsburg and Imre Pozsgay.

Interview with Senator Catherine Noone… August 19, 2019

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…in the Mirror, conducted by Jason O’Toole. Was away for weekend and only just seen this. It’s certainly an insight into FG thinking, not least on a more recent series of events concerning a TD, but one paragraph caught my eye immediately.

Senator Catherine Noone was left shaken when an angry constituent blasted her for chairing the Oireachtas Committee that recommended the Eighth Amendment should be repealed.

In an exclusive interview with the Irish Mirror, Ms Noone said: “I was outside with
a friend one sunny evening and a man approached me and started giving out to me. It was a bit abusive. I was a little shocked and my friend was upset by it.

“It shouldn’t happen. I’m a civilian when I’m not working. I give a lot of my life to public service so when I’m with a friend socialising you don’t except people to start giving you abuse. But I have to emphasise the positive here – for every one incident like that I’d say there could be 20 where people have said, ‘Keep up the good work’. I get so much positive feedback from people.”

What are the boundaries in regard to elected representatives and interactions with citizens in those instances?

No time for theatrics August 19, 2019

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Thought the Observer editorial this weekend was pretty good in outlining the case for Jeremy Corbyn being given the opportunity to form a ‘time-limited national government’. For many it will be far from optimal, but what other force is in the field in such numbers that it could actually work. Moreover it does point up one clear contradiction on the Tory side (and amongst some LDs). There are many in that camp who are very strong rhetorically in regard to their antipathy to a no-deal Brexit but faced with a half-way viable means of ensuring that outcome is prevented they retreat. If politics teaches us anything it is that one works with what one has, not with what one wishes one had.

Irish Left Archive: ‘Giving Irish Trotskyism a bad name” – Revolutionary Marxist Group, January 1973 August 19, 2019

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To download the above please click on the following link. rmg-name-change-1.pdf

Please click here to go the Left Archive.

Many thanks to the person who forwarded this to the Archive.

https://www.clririshleftarchive.org/organisation/239/

This is a fascinating short communication from the Belfast Branch of the Revolutionary Marxist Group to the rest of the organisation over a proposal to change the name from ‘Revolutionary’ to ‘Republican Marxist Group’.

Names have been blurred out.

Please note: If files have been posted for or to other online archives previously we would appreciate if we could be informed of that. We are eager to credit same where applicable or simply provide links.

1989 revisited: 18 August – Jaruzelski agrees to Solidarity government August 18, 2019

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General Jarulzelski agreed on 18 August to a Solidarity government on two conditions which he relayed to Lech Walesa – first that Poland would remain within the socialist bloc and secondly that the Interior and Defence Ministries would be retained by the Communists. Walesa agreed to both.

Apparently at this time Ceausescu had been seeking an ‘intervention’ by Warsaw Pact armies in Poland – but the Soviet leadership was deeply averse to any such approach.

Arranmore drones August 18, 2019

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This is eye-candy for me. Drone footage of Arranmore, off the coast of Donegal and a place I know pretty well. I’m always a bit leery about drones, but for this sort of camera work they’re undeniably useful.

And though this is an ad, albeit some interesting if dispiriting information, there’s some lovely footage.

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