Nov 04 2019

BREXIT MARK 2 – BORIS DISPELS THE FOG TO REVEAL CLASS WAR – an Irish perspective

Many both on the Left and amongst the Irish and Scottish nationalists have welcomed the break between the Tories and the DUP, following Boris Johnson’s perceived cave in before the EU, over the border. They believe that the road to Iris reunification is now open. This article from Socialist Democracy (Ireland) argues from a much more cautionary stance.

 

BREXIT MARK 2 – BORIS DISPELS THE FOG TO REVEAL CLASS WAR

– an Irish perspective

 

Boris addresses DUP conference during his now abandoned ‘No Surrender’ days.

 

Over the years of the  Brexit campaign the Tory leadership have been careful to avoid any explanation of the goals of the project. One element,  anti-migrant sentiment and racism, was already in progress following Theresa May’s former leadership of the Home office. For the rest, democracy was defined as never questioning the thin majority of the Brexit vote. For May, “Brexit means Brexit”. Johnston’s mantra was “get it done”. Now the proposals put forward by Boris Johnson are finally beginning to clarify the details of the class divisions on which the process is built.

The first clarification is that the struggle is essentially an English civil war with everyone else reduced to the role of spectator. Theresa May puts forward a soft Brexit. Europe agrees. Boris Johnson puts forward a harder Brexit. Europe agrees. The internecine struggle continues in Britain.

Although Boris and his friends continue to dodge the consequences of Brexit, arguing instead that any deal is better than no deal or that we should get things done without considering the consequences, the changes to the agreement spell out their aims. Britain will leave the customs union. Rules about a level playing field will be moved from the legally enforceable text to the meaningless initial policy statement.

These changes reveals the main goal of Brexit for the right wing. Conciliation of racism alongside abolition of workers rights and a sweatshop economy that will “make Britain great again”.

The area of greatest concern to Irish workers is the new proposal around the status of the North. Mainly this is a fudge and so it is designed to sow confusion, but it is possible to work out the details.

The main focus is on the Democratic Unionist Party. Their discomfiture is seen as good news for nationalists and as bringing a United Ireland closer. This view is based on a superficial analysis and a strong concern in Irish nationalism to avoid any scrutiny of their own role. In Westminster the elevation of Boris and deepening divisions leave the DUP as one voting bloc among many. This is a much more realistic portrayal of their status than the deference  shown them by an overly cautious Theresa May.

However the key thing to understand is that the Good Friday Agreement did not put the DUP in charge, despite a raft of concessions to keep their support, the outcome of the Good Friday Agreement was to leave Britain in charge, something made evident by three years of undeclared Direct Rule and a recent Westminster decision to implement changes on abortion and gay rights over the head of the DUP.

The new Brexit drive sees Britain and the North of Ireland leaving the EU while the 26 county state remains inside. Presenting this as a step towards a United Ireland is perverse.

Once we blow away the impressionistic fog the central element of the new deal in relation to Ireland is that the backstop is gone, replaced with a ramshackle fudge directed by the changing needs of the Westminster government.

This change was enabled by Leo Varadkar.  He talked tough and wrapped the green flag around himself.  He had unwavering support from Europe but, as Brexit drew nearer, the role of the Irish capitalist class, described by the poet Yeats as to:” fumble in the greasy till, and add the halfpence to the pence,”  reasserted itself. To avoid economic discomfort Varadkar tossed away the backstop, accepting that the six northern counties would leave the EU with Britain. The DUP complaint is about a border in the Irish Sea. This obscures the fact that there will be border checks in Ireland also – the only promise is that they will not be on the border itself.

The best way to understand the unfolding events is it an episode in an ongoing political disintegration.

The European project is in decay after a decade of austerity and ongoing stagnation. Europe’s chief concern is to make sure that Britain is not rewarded for Brexit and that other states are dissuaded from leaving. This strategy has been successful but at the price of a sharp move to the right by Europe as a whole. Its conciliation to racism and national chauvinism means that the strategy of “ever closer union” is now dead.

The British ruling class responded to austerity  by conciliating the forces of racism and reaction. No one questions the economic damage that this strategy will do. It’s necessary to press ahead with it if the Tories are to maintain the support of growing right-wing forces. They hope that a sweatshop economy will  increase profit rates and secure their rule.

The Irish economy has been summed up by many commentators as essentially a tax haven. Politics is a sink of corruption, with one commentator satirically remarking about a recent protection racket that he did not see why the gangsters should not avail of the same impunity granted to every other sector of Irish society. Government policy is  centred on supporting transnational capital, the European Central Bank, and the vulture funds. The economy overall is heavily skewed towards transnational corporations, with a dual economy of majority transnational and minority local firms. The overall effect is that the outcome of Brexit would lead to a 6% decline in the transnational economy. However the minority native economy would sink by almost half in the event of a hard Brexit. Faced with this possibility the class interests of Dublin capitalism come to the fore and blowhard language about facing up to the British vanished.

Sinn Fein emerge as simply dependent on local capitalism, echoing Fine Gael. They support the deal using the same fevered arguments as the Brexiteers – having a deal is better than no deal.

The emergence of the DUP as an appendage of British imperialism caused more of a stir because they were able to talk themselves up as the power behind the throne in Westminster. Now they are only one right wing bloc among a stew of such Tory groups. The refusal of a unionist veto over the terms of Brexit is a terrible blow to them, but the idea that the unionist veto could extend over all of Europe was totally implausible.

The cry is that this is the beginning of the end for partition. The truth is that the existing petition of concern, that gives unionism a veto over nearly all political issues, would have had to be modified to produce a functioning administration. The Good Friday Agreement has multiple safeguards around “equality of the two traditions” that would protect Unionist interests. In any case a genuine movement in opposition to partition is required as opposed to the current Sinn Fein playacting within the terms set by Britain. The claim to be the leading unionists in Ireland could credibly be made by Irish capitalism, who have made it absolutely clear that nothing as simple as a majority vote, even one confined to the North, would be enough to assure a united Ireland.

The main evidence against the united Ireland hypothesis is it has not arisen in the current debate. The Tory Party has put the DUP firmly in their place, but there is no suggestion of leaving Ireland. As indicated above, Dublin surrender of the backstop increases the political force of partition. Now Sinn Fein whisper about a border poll, but as this is at the whim of the Secretary of State it has no weight.

The overwhelming effect of the Brexit circus is to mobilise the right while confusing and demoralizing the left and the working class. The latest proposals by the British government are starting to dispel that confusion and expose the real aims of Brexit; accommodation to racism and a suppression of working class rights.

That greater clarity should help move the opposition from parliament to the working class and from European austerity versus British austerity to the struggle for a European solidarity based on the needs of the working class.

 

26/10/19

 

This was first posted at http://www.socialistdemocracy.org/RecentArticles/RecentBrexitMarkII.html

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also see:-

http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2019/09/11/a-nation-once-again/

http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2019/04/15/british-government-expands-powers-in-the-north/

BREXIT AND WHAT IT MEANS IN IRELAND

“WE ARE THE SACRIFICE”

http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2018/02/25/the-end-of-the-road-the-irish-settlement-founders-on-the-rock-of-language-rights/

http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2017/08/04/taking-a-closer-look-at-the-reality-of-northern-ireland/

THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT, THE FUTURE IS ORANGE!

 

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Apr 15 2019

BRITISH GOVERNMENT EXPANDS POWERS IN THE NORTH

The following article from Socialist Democracy (Ireland) highlights the impact of the reactionary unionism in Northern Ireland.  The Good Friday Agreement,  with its official  recognition of Unionists and Nationalists in a reformed Stormont, acted as liberal mask for the continued sectarian order in Northern Ireland. This placed the UK government in the position of ‘neutral’ arbiter, the better to ensure its continued rule. With the DUP now in alliance with May’s post-Brexit vote Conservative government, reactionary unionists see no need to maintain the liberal facade. Growing UK centralisation of power was always a central feature of Brexit, and its implications are not confined to Ireland.

 

 

BRITISH GOVERNMENT EXPANDS POWERS IN THE NORTH

A common myth regarding the northern state is that it has been without a government since the Stormont Assembly and executive collapsed in early 2017.  Accompanying this is the claim every that every ill in society (from sectarian intimidation to a failing health service) is down to (or at the very least made worse) by the absence of devolved government.  What usually follows from this is a call for Stormont to be restored as a means to bring about some improvement.  This is a call that is made unambiguously and unconditionally by the trade unions. It is also a call that is made by the left groups (albeit dressed up in rhetoric about fighting austerity or securing civil rights). The underlying assumptions here are that the political institutions brought into existence by the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) can shield the working class to some degree or even be a vehicle for reforms. Continue reading “BRITISH GOVERNMENT EXPANDS POWERS IN THE NORTH”

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Feb 19 2019

BREXIT AND WHAT IT MEANS IN IRELAND

The E&L blog  has been reporting the situation in Ireland since we started up. However, during  current Brexit negotiations , the  ‘backstop’ has pushed the issue of Northern Ireland to the fore. We are publishing two articles which share a lot in common in their analysis of Ireland, but which offer differing perspectives on the role of the EU. The first is written by David Jamieson and first appeared on the Commonspace blog. The second is written by Allan Armstrong and forms the seventh chapter of his new pamphlet From Blatcherism to Maybynism.

 

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  1. ANALYSIS – MICRO-POLITICS ISN’T ENOUGH – WE MUST ADDRESS

THE  PARTITION OF IRELAND

 

Debates around the UK border in Ireland and the so called ‘backstop’ bring the crisis elements of the British state into sharper focus. Continue reading “BREXIT AND WHAT IT MEANS IN IRELAND”

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Jan 22 2019

FAILING GOVERNMENTS IN IRELAND – SOUTH AND NORTH

We are posting two articles from the Socialist Democracy (Ireland) website, highlighting the problems faced by  the current Fine Gael  government in  the Dail and the lack of enthusiasm for reviving Stormont in Belfast.

 

1. CONFIDENCE AND SUPPLY AGREEMENT EXTENDED

Varadkar (Fine Gael) and Martin (Fianna Fail) agree deal at the Dail

A de facto government of national unity in Ireland weakens capitalism and poses a sharp challenge for the opposition.

In mid-December Fianna Fail and Fine Gael agreed a new confidence and supply agreement, maintaining the minority Fine Gael government in place until 2020. The event went almost unnoticed, with smiles from both parties, claims that the agreement was forced by the national interest and the imminence of Brexit. The smaller parties cried foul from the sidelines, having been deprived of an election contest. Continue reading “FAILING GOVERNMENTS IN IRELAND – SOUTH AND NORTH”

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Nov 23 2018

AN IRELAND UPDATE – SOUTH AND NORTH

We posting to articles from the Socialist Democracy (Ireland) website on the current political situation South and North. The first looks at the recent Presidential election; the second at the collapse of Stormont.

1. IRISH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: AN ELECTION WITHOUT CANDIDATES

Sinn Fein presidentail candidate. Liadh Ni Riada, appealing to the lowest common denominator in ‘A New Ireland’ – but no mention of Sinn Fein!

Throughout the presidential election one could only watch open mouthed as RTE, an organisation usually incapable of reporting real events, spent day after day in minute analysis of a nothing burger election.

The clear favourite was Michael D Higgins who has left his Labour Party days long behind to become a living figurehead representing more or less nothing. The other candidates were self-publicists and reality stars with the exception of the Sinn Fein candidate, Liadh Ní Riada, who successfully imitated the bland conservatism of her opponents. It is hardly a surprise that a minority of the population struggled to get as far as the polling booth as a wave of apathy swept the state. Continue reading “AN IRELAND UPDATE – SOUTH AND NORTH”

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Aug 01 2018

A QUIET TWELFTH

We are posting the latest update in out coverage of events in the Six Counties. This article was first posted by Socialist Democracy (Ireland) 

 

A QUIET TWELFTH
Capitulation to Orangeism pays off, but at what price?

 

                                                                                         Four Catholic families have been intimidated

                                                                                                       out of Cantrell Place in Belfast

 

The Orange marching season in the North of Ireland kicks off with Twelfth of July marches, preceded by the 11th night bonfires. This year the Twelfth demonstration passed almost without incident. The 11th night bonfires saw a rash of hijacking and petrol bombing in east Belfast and parts of County Down. These were protests following a court order applying fire safety rules to a bonfire. The Ulster Volunteer Force gangsters behind the hijacking believed as a matter of principle that the bonfires should be free of any legal impediment. Continue reading “A QUIET TWELFTH”

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Jul 19 2018

“WE ARE THE SACRIFICE”

Socialist Democracy (Ireland) updates us on the consequences of the continuing slide to Right in the Six Counties.

 

“WE ARE THE SACRIFICE”

Belfast bonfire, 2018

 

Irish nationalism endorses Orange intimidation

If one thing links the political systems on both sides of the Irish border it is political corruption. Corruption so open, invasive and blatant that it would be comic if not so harmful. However the northern corruption has the added dimension of ongoing capitulation to loyalism, a capitulation that offers effective impunity to loyalist groups and has now reached the stage where the paramilitaries, in collaboration with the Democratic Unionist Party, are given a free hand to write the rules to suit themselves, setting the scene for the coming bonfire and Orange marching festival. Continue reading ““WE ARE THE SACRIFICE””

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Apr 22 2018

20th ANNIVERSARY OF THE GOOD FRIDAY AGREEMENT

We are posting this article on the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement from Socialist Democracy (Ireland). 

 

CLINTON AND BLAIR CELEBRATE SUCCESS

20th Anniversary of Good Friday Agreement

 

Aren’t we still great

In some Roman societies of late antiquity, after a death the body would remain for a time in the family home.  It would be placed in a sarcophagus and treated as still present in the family.  A rich individual would have a funeral mask painted on the face of the sarcophagus and triumphs and achievements carved in bas-relief around the sides.  Both image and carvings would be enhanced to exaggerate the importance of the individual and his achievements. Continue reading “20th ANNIVERSARY OF THE GOOD FRIDAY AGREEMENT”

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Feb 25 2018

THE END OF THE ROAD – THE COLLAPSE OF THE NORTHERN IRELAND EXECUTIVE

 

Socialist Democracy (Ireland) have posted two articles  the following  the collapse of the Northern Ireland Executive. These were first posted at:- 

http://socialistdemocracy.org/RecentArticles/RecentIrishSettlementFoundersOnTheRockOfLanguageRights.html http://socialistdemocracy.org/RecentArticles/RecentClassPoliticsVersusModernity.html

 

1. THE END OF THE ROAD 

THE IRISH SETTLEMENT FOUNDERS ON THE ROCK OF LANGUAGE RIGHTS

When Sinn Fein collapsed the Stormont executive in early 2017 they put forward a very simple case. The Irish peace process was based on legal documents and international treaties and on a series of agreements and promises that had constantly been broken. If the process and the institutions were to survive it was time to live up to the existing agreements before moving on. This involved resolving state killings, reducing sectarian provocations, and accepting a level of gay rights such as gay marriage and an Irish Language Act. Continue reading “THE END OF THE ROAD – THE COLLAPSE OF THE NORTHERN IRELAND EXECUTIVE”

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Feb 03 2018

THE OUSTING OF BARRY MCELDUFF

Category: Against Unionism,IrelandRCN @ 12:51 am

The following is an article about the ousting of Barry McElduff, Sinn Fein MP for West Tyrone, after his notorious tweet. This article first appeared in Socialist Democracy (Ireland). 

 

 THE OUSTING OF BARRY McELDUFF

Barry McElduff

A sustained campaign of outrage has led to the ousting of the Sinn Fein MP for West Tyrone. The campaign arose from the posting of a tweet showing the MP balancing a loaf of bread on his head in a supermarket declaiming; “where do they keep the bread?” Unfortunately the bread was from the Kingsmill bakery and McElduff’s antics were on the anniversary of the IRA sectarian massacre of ten protestant workmen at Kingsmills.

The thesis behind the outrage was that McElduff was a sectarian and the stunt a deliberate provocation. By extension Sinn Fein, failing to immediately force his resignation, were themselves guilty of sectarian provocation. Continue reading “THE OUSTING OF BARRY MCELDUFF”

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