Matt Treacy sees too much alarmism over Brexit. 

believes in challenging the consensus, 
facilitating debate, and delivering news and analysis without the liberal filter
Stockholm Syndrome. It is the psychological description of a state in which a captive comes to identify with their captor.

On the day on which our nearest neighbour has formally departed the European Union, perhaps it is apt to reflect on this state’s relationship to that entity.

There are many factors influencing the reaction of Irish people to this, but many of us appear to be obsessed with the fear of offending bureaucrats in Brussels.

“Oh, they built the roads, and the farmers get grants …” and so on. Are we unable to do these things ourselves? We have a vast off shore fishery that has been handed over to the European Union. The same applies to our oil and gas reserves. Norway has similar resources and survives very well without being a member state.

The rationale for an economic and political consensus between the peoples of Europe are obvious. Millions died in two wars in the last century and millions more died under totalitarian regimes. Co-operation makes sense.

What does not make sense is the surrender of sovereignty to any entity outside of the control of nation states and their democratically elected authority. Which explains why the Brits support Brexit and the Poles and Hungarians refuse to accept being told what to do in regard to issues like immigration.

So Britain is adrift. Is this the end of civilization as we know it? That is the impression conveyed by our own “elite” whose relationship with British influence in our country is questionable to say the least.

What they are actually terrified of is their former masters losing their lead.

The Fintan O’Tooles and the rest of them are like whipped pups who have found a new master. Not London now but Brussels. Some paddies will always need someone to tell them how to be.

A more mature political and intellectual class would realise that we have much deeper relationships with our immediate neighbour and other European nations.

Matt Treacy is a writer and a former republican prisoner.

Brexit Has Happened. Is It The End Of Civilisation As We Know It?

Tommy McKearney warns of the dangers arising from placating the Transnational Companies.

Socialist Voice is the official newspaper of the Communist Party of Ireland (CPI)

From time to time a seemingly minor event illuminates the nature of governance in a country. Such a moment occurred last month when the CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, was honoured in Dublin.

There may have been a degree of electioneering on Varadkar’s part when he presented the IDA’s inaugural “special recognition award” to Cook. Nevertheless he echoed a long-held view among Ireland’s ruling business class. He said Apple had played a key role in making Ireland the “tech capital of Europe”; and, significantly, he emphasised that what he considers success has come by looking to the future and opening the Republic to trade and competition—all this glad-handing of the billionaire businessman from California in spite of the fact that the EU Commission has ruled that Apple owes the Irish state €13 billion (plus interest) in underpayment of taxes.

All very predictable from the leader of neo-liberal Fine Gael; but there was more to this event than meets the eye. A move is afoot by several OECD member-states, led by France and now Britain, to impose a digital tax on American technology companies, assessed on their business dealings in the markets in which they operate. If carried out, such a proposal would hit the huge profits of Google, Facebook, Amazon, and—biggest of them all—Apple.

This frankly modest measure is bitterly opposed not only by the United States but also by the Republic’s government. Hence the kowtowing to Cook in Dublin.

How to explain this strange behaviour? Why would an Irish government constantly take steps to deny the state revenue that is badly needed? After all, no-one seriously denies that we have massive deficiencies in the health service, a housing and homelessness crisis, exorbitant costs of child care, and—as we are told—a depleted pension pot as the retirement age is stretched further towards the grave.

The answer to this apparent paradox lies in the endless struggle to retain control of society and its wealth. Those now in power—and this includes supporters of several political parties—are determined to ensure that the free-market system remains in place at all costs. The alternative—to plan the economy and redistribute wealth fairly and to where it is most needed—would challenge the ruling class’s source of power, that is, its ownership of a controlling share of the country’s wealth.

Illustrating this is the fact that almost half of all TDs are millionaires, and now there is the recently published Oxfam report stating that Ireland has the fifth-largest number of billionaires per capita in the world.

Integral to this elite preservation strategy is the presence of a significant number of foreign transnational companies, with their non-unionised employment practices weakening the bargaining power of local organised labour. An inevitable by-product of this process, and one that our comprador bourgeoisie is comfortable with, is a steady erosion of sovereignty.

Sovereignty, like a slow descent into addiction, can be lost imperceptibly. Moreover, as a people’s power to self-govern is eroded, their ability to fight back is seriously curtailed. As global imperialism, overseen by the US ruling class, is facing a challenge to its hegemony from the newly emerging superpower China, its exponents are struggling to tighten their grip on power and in the process becoming more authoritarian.

The ramifications of this are widespread and complex, as effective power and control is increasingly conceded to those governing the United States, supported by the EU.

One example among many. The advocate-general of the EU Court of Justice recently published an opinion that “the transfer of personal data to processors established in third countries is valid . . .” This is basically saying that transferring data, including credit-card transactions and personnel databases, from the EU to (principally) the United States should be allowed.

American corporations and security agencies are therefore being invited in effect to gather vast quantities of EU citizens’ personal information. That our concerns are not groundless was illustrated by a recent Morning Star article, “Apple drops plans for icloud encryption after FBI complains.”[1] The FBI believed that the move would harm its investigations. Ominously too, Apple alone has responded to more than 127,000 requests from US law-enforcement agencies for information over the past seven years.

Overwhelmed by hyperbole surrounding so-called benefits, and therefore the alleged need to encourage and maintain foreign direct investment, the Republic’s largest political parties have offered no criticism of the high-tech giants. Nor is there any serious analysis of the influence exercised by these corporations in the affairs of the state. Consequently, practically no alternative is being widely discussed to how the economy of this state could prosper in their absence.

Unless we are happy to allow this state of affairs to continue unchallenged—and we are not—a strategy has to be devised for turning the situation round. Faced with the undoubted hostility of the establishment, its political spokespersons, and its compliant media, this will entail an uphill struggle.

One avenue is to avail of an opportunity that allows us to raise the issue in a context immediately relevant to the existing situation in Ireland. That issue is the housing and homelessness crisis. Late last year several news networks in the United States were reporting that many large high-tech transnationals were donating money to the state of California to help alleviate a housing crisis in San Francisco.[2] Along with significant contributions from Amazon, Google, and Facebook, the Apple company was making $2½ billion available to the state government.

Surely it would be in order for the Irish government to make a similar demand upon these transnationals. After all, Tim Cook, on his recent visit, described the Republic as Apple’s “second home.”

Of course this is a reformist approach; but then, at a certain level, so is asking for a pay increase. The point is that by forcing this demand onto the agenda we would open a door to a deeper assessment of the role of transnationals in the Republic. A successful campaign would embolden working people, and if the transnationals resist they are exposed for the rapacious capitalists they are. It’s an option worth consideration.

1. “Apple drops plans for icloud encryption after FBI complains,” Morning Star, 23 January 2020 (

2. “Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are spending money to address the affordable housing crisis they helped create,” CNBC, 1 December 2019.

Tommy McKearney is a left wing activist and author of 

How A Minor Event Shines A Light

A Morning Thought @ 632

Anthony Amore answers 13 questions in a Booker's Dozen.

TPQ: What are you currently reading? 

AA: Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow.

TPQ: Best book you have ever read? 

AA: Love, Poverty, and War by Christopher Hitchens.

TPQ: First book to really own you? 

AA: The Bronx Zoo by Sparky Lyle! 

TPQ: A must-read before you die? 

AA: Carl Sandberg’s multi-volume set on Abraham Lincoln’s life.

TPQ: A preference for fact or fiction? 

AA: Fact.

TPQ: Favourite male and female author? 

AA: Christopher Hitchens - Zora Neale Hurston.

A Berlin Book Tower in memory of the Nazi book burning.

TPQ: Book most cherished as a child? 

AA: The Bronx Zoo.

TPQ: Favourite childhood author? 

AA: Sparky Lyle.

TPQ: Any book you point blank refuse to read? 

AA: Outrages by Naomi Wolf.

TPQ: Any author you point blank refuse to read? 

AA: Naomi Wolf 

TPQ: Pick a book to give to somebody so that they would more fully understand you. 

AA: Love, Poverty, and War by Hitchens.

TPQ: Last book you gave as a present? 

AA: Louisa May Alcott: Her Life, Letters, and Journals.

TPQ: Book you would most like to see turned into a movie? 

AA: My next book! The Woman Who Stole Vermeer!

Anthony Amore is an author and art theft expert?

Booker's Dozen @ Anthony Amore

Kevin Morley discusses the recent Irish general election in the context of a national health service. 

I can remember exactly where I was back in 1986 when Sinn Fein (Provisional) had taken their momentous decision to break their own rule book entering the twenty-six-county parliament, Dail Eireann. This caused a split in the organisation, not for the first time over the issue of entering Dail politics. Out of this, just as the provisional wing of Sinn Fein came into being, so did Republican Sinn Fein come about. I was sat on the London tube, Northern Line travelling to work at a Builders yard, Waterloo, wearing my work clothes, denims, steel toed boots and a Donkey Jacket still sporting the COAL NOT DOLE stickers from the previous year’s Coal Miner’s Strike. I glanced up and read the headlines of a broadsheet which read; “Uproar As Provos Enter Dail” which was referring to the above mentioned decision by the former revolutionary party to enter the Dail. 

The man reading the newspaper was, in sharp contrast to my dress, wearing his work clothes consisting of a three-piece suit and suede shoes! I recall thinking, fucking wanker! These enterist policies into the world of the bourgeoisie and their parliaments – all parliaments of liberal democracies are institutions geared solely to governing the affairs of the indigenous capitalist class. 

From Congress in the USA to the Bundestag in Germany, then West Germany, including Westminster, this is the role of what I call “Pandoras Boxes”. They are not there to govern the interests of the working-class, we are just led to believe this crap for five minutes every five years or so – I thought, what about the much heralded 32 county socialist republic? This was Sinn Fein policy and for many years afterwards remained, at least in public, to be so. Their paper, An Phobolacht, at least the one sold in Ireland and Britain often referred to the party’s aims of a 32 county democratic socialist republic. The one sold in the USA, I understand, made less reference to socialism, after all can’t be upsetting the capital of bourgeois ideology. The capital in the modern world yes, but not the originators.

As we know in Ireland, 26 counties, we have recently had an election and Sinn Fein are not the only party to drop their revolutionary clothes. People Before Profit, PBP originates from the Socialist Workers Party who trumpeted as their motto: “No Parliamentary Road to Socialism” which is as true today as ever. Their partners, Solidarity, come from the old Socialist Party and espoused a similar revolutionary road towards socialism. The SWP, I remember, ran down O’Connell Street many years back to the astonishment of shoppers shouting in their massed ranks; “one solution, revolution!” Both Sinn Fein and PBP/Solidarity are voteable and preach progressive policies. They are the best of a bad bunch in many respects.

Now we see these former revolutionaries trying to cobble together a “left-wing government” and I wish them well in this venture. The alternative is years of the same tried, tested and failed Fianna Fail and Fine Gael policies. The policies of homelessness, a health service not worthy of the name – no fault of the nurses and doctors employed – and more of these policies will kill, literally, many people. In the case of Fianna Fail they were unlucky enough, in one respect, to have been in office when the international capitalist economies collapsed. They presided over the effects of this in Ireland and could have done a lot more to cushion the blow on working-class people, but they didn’t. They instead, and true to form, looked after their friends in big business.

Sinn Fein and PBP/Solidarity both champion the establishment of a nationalised health service, and rightly so, single tiered with treatment free at the point of need. Modelled closely on the UKs NHS and funded from general taxation, primarily Income Tax, these policies are certainly progressive though not revolutionary. Below I shall briefly examine the UK NHS from its hey-day to present decline.

When the Second World War ended in 1945, the United Kingdom, including the six counties, was in a state of needing repair. In the election of that year the British electorate – not including the six counties, though they benefited for once – voted in by a landslide a labour government. Out went the wartime leader, Winston Churchill – who presided over the war time coalition – who, despite what many said about him being a great wartime leader, which may or may not have been the case, he was too closely remembered for the hard times of the pre-war years, the thirties. Britain (and empire) had been on the winning side, along with the USSR, USA, Canada to name three in the war against fascism and people demanded better. The thirties had been austere years for the working-class in the UK, even in Belfast during the outdoor relief schemes of the early thirties the boss’s biggest fears were evolving before their very eyes. Protestant and Catholic workers were united in their poverty and for a period it looked like the old sectarian divisions were in the process of being broken down. This was more than the employers could face and, as usual, they played the sectarian Orange Card thus resurrecting the age-old divisions between Catholic and Protestant, which Britain used for years as justification for their occupation. The 1945 election saw Churchill kicked out of office and the election of a parliamentary constitutional socialist government headed by Clement Attlee. This was the first ever majority labour administration and Attlee won by a landslide. His manifesto was radical, as were some of his ministers like Aneurin Bevan, a firebrand socialist who believed passionately in health which was the Ministry he was given. Attlee also nationalised some of the major industries, Coal, Rail, Transport to name but three. The programme was not revolutionary but by the standards of the day was radical. The labour government elect also included a broad-based Welfare State which included a National Health Service (NHS). Among the slogans of the welfare state was the maxim; “never again” meaning, “never again will people be means tested” before aid will be given. To cover the whole welfare state would be too broad for this piece so we shall look at the NHS. Aneurin Bevan, Atlee’s Minister for Health had a huge battle with the health professions, doctors in particular and even today most doctors practices, though incorporated into the NHS are in fact private business’s. Hospital Consultants were also a problem who had to be overcome but, and against massive odds, Bevan overcame them.

On July 5th 1948 Bevan unveiled the NHS where treatment would be given “free at the point of need” irrespective of a person’s ability to pay. Gone were the days when before treatment would be given a person’s bank balance had to be checked first. Another part of the post-war labour government’s policies, were the adoption of a mixed economy based on the principles advocated by the economist, John Maynard Keynes known as “Keynesianism.” These policies were geared towards full employment, an essential ingredient for labours vision. The new NHS was to be funded by general taxation, particularly Income Tax, and for this to even stand a chance full employment with everybody paying their share of Income Tax was essential. The UK as a whole needed rebuilding after the war many hands were needed for the task. For this reason, the bourgeoisie never objected to these plans, it would save them paying for the job, and, in many cases, they would profit out of the work which needed doing. Only about five percent of industry was nationalised leaving plenty of spare room for private companies to make money. Of course, a strong, large healthy workforce was needed which provided much impetus for the NHS and full employment. The welfare state provided unemployment benefit, the dole, which nobody claimed because everybody was in employment. Only those between jobs, sometimes called frictional unemployment which was not even registered, were for a short period, usually a week or so, out of work. Nobody claimed the “dole” even though it was considerably more relative to wages, than an unemployed person gets today. This drives a stagecoach through the theory of people not being willing to work, preferring to live off “hanouts”, for a living, often pedalled by the bourgeois media in modern days. The middle-classes, bourgeoisie, knew one day they would get their nationalised industries back, at a cut rate, once the post-war project was complete. How right they were! The political theatre after the war became known as the “Post War Consensus” in Britain – again the six counties were different, one party unionist rule prevailed there – and by consensus it was meant; one party would not do too much to undo what the other party had done while in government. So, in 1951 when Churchill was returned his administration did little if anything to reverse the nationalisation of Attlee and the previous labour government. Similarly, the conservative administration went along with, and even developed, the NHS. They too realised the boss’s needed a strong, large, reliable and healthy workforce to keep industry working and profits coming. If people were off sick, and could not afford healthcare they would be away from work much longer, thus costing the economy money. If they could receive healthcare free at the point of need, the quicker they’d be back at work. This consensus thrived and kept Britain going throughout the fifties and into the sixties. In 1960 Conservative Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan once boasted to the British people; “you’ve never had it so good” and this included the jewel in the crown, the NHS.

During the sixties the first cracks appeared in the consensus, as capitalism recovered after the war, it was seen that the NHS costs were rising and therefore, in order to suit the needs of capitalism cuts were introduced by the labour government of Harold Wilson. It was Wilson’s administration who first introduced the closure of coalmines and it was in 1963 that Dr Richard Beeching closed many railway Branch lines which were uneconomical. These cuts became known as; the “Beeching Axe”, officially called “The reshaping of Britain’s Railways” and coupled with the cuts in coal production saw the first reduction in nationalised goods and services. The NHS did not escape these cuts, many rural “cottage hospitals” were closed. In the cities some smaller hospitals were closed in favour of larger, what would later become, “centres of excellence” and specialised hospitals. All the same and despite the cuts the NHS was still the jewel in the crown of the consensus, and the best in Europe. it was also the largest employer in Europe, and still, despite the cuts and privatisation of certain areas one of the largest employers in Europe.

In 1979 the election of Margaret Thatcher as UK Prime Minister signalled the end of the Post War Consensus. She hated the consensus with a vengeance and was determined the nationalised industries would be privatised, and the trade unions, strong in these industries, destroyed as a meaningful force. This was her policy, union bashing culmination with the year-long miner’s strike in 1984/85. She also dispensed with Keynesian economic practices replacing these with those espoused by Milton Freidman and the “Chicago School” of economics, monetarism. There was less emphasis on full employment and much more was aimed at reducing inflation, without telling anybody what the real causes of inflation were/are. If she could blame the unions for inflation, and enough gullible people believed her, then that was good enough. Unfortunately, through her control – unofficial – of the media it worked. Once she had tackled, or reduced the power of the trade unions, the NHS would have to be trimmed, but she was acutely aware this could not be done in one sweep. The people would not stand for her butchering the health service as she had done with other industries. This had to be done bit by bit, and while the cuts were being initiated she continuously told the public, “the NHS is safe in our hands”. By 1990 Thatcher had gone, but Thatcherism lived on and, arguably, still does! With unemployment, purposely rising – this was all a factor in defeating the unions, if people were out of work, the less likely those in employment were to go on strike – meaning again, less income tax revenue. That meant the NHS had to look increasingly more to private investment for funding. Now, private investors do not invest unless a profit can be made. The NHS was/is not supposed to be a profit-making organisation but the private sector would not invest their money unless a profit could be secured. Work it out for yourselves, I won’t insult the readers intelligence with all the details, but the NHS had to, for these people, return them a profit for their investments. Privatisation of certain areas of the NHS was on the cards!

Through the nineties, morale in the NHS among staff was ebbing fast. It was still among the finest health services in Europe but was beginning to look a shadow of its former self. Capitalism no longer needed the large healthy workforce it once did, new technology brought in by private employers deemed workers, human ones, unnecessary. Everybody began to believe the myth unemployment was inevitable, due to “automation and new technology” which of course is bollocks. It is not, was not, the automation of industry which causes unemployment, it is who owns this technology? The new means of production, distribution and exchange, just as their Fordist forerunners and before, right back to the Industrial Revolution, were/are not in themselves responsible for unemployment. Private ownership of the means of production now, as in history, is the cause of unemployment. Therefore, this private ownership is indirectly or otherwise, of the means of production, causing unemployment, is a major factor in the demise of the NHS. In the six counties one major reason against Irish unity the unionists could, with some justification, point to was the disparity in the health systems, north and south. The NHS was leaps and bounds above the HSE in the 26 counties. Not because the Doctors and Nurses were any better in the NHS than the HSE (or its previous name) but because of the structural set up delivering treatment and care free at the point of need practised by the NHS in the six counties. Contrast this with the system in the south, VHI and Medical Cards, and we can see why the NHS comes out well on top. That gap, however, had narrowed in recent decades, not because the HSE has caught up, but because the NHS has digressed. The UK National Health Service, once the jewel in the post war consensus crown, initiated by the government of Clement Attlee, based on the wartime report of William Beverage, is now in the lower part of the European health table. The twenty- six counties are lower but the gap between the two is much narrower!

Last year a report on the state of the finances in the NHS was commissioned. This was compiled by Sir Robert Naylor and has become known as the “Naylor Report” or, “Naylor Review”. It advocates the selling off of NHS “surplus land” and hospitals, disused buildings owned by the NHS, and the money raised used to invest in what is left. Building new hospitals is one way of investing, so we are told, but where? If all the “surplus” land has been sold to private speculators to build houses, private dwellings on, even if the money raised was sufficient, where are any new hospitals going to be built? Hospitals which do not sell land have been told they will be punished. They may be strangled of repair and building monies! To accelerate these sales hospitals will get a “2 – for – 1” offer roughly translated this means, to my understanding, the government steps in and doubles the cash received for the sale. The money to be paid straight to the hospitals, not private developers – supposedly to finance building projects. Again, the question must be asked, if hospitals have sold their land and receive this money, where exactly are they going to build? On new land costing more than the old land, even with the government double money, was sold for. More than what was received for the old land? What would be wrong with the government giving this money without the hospitals selling the land, they, the government, obviously have it, to build or develop for health on the land they already have? This could also lead, in order to get this cash, to the NHS selling land which isn’t really “surplus”! The Naylor Report recommends selling NHS land and buildings worth around £2 billion rising to £5 billion to build homes on. In order to secure this money, cash which should have been there from taxation, is tantamount to a drive to further privatise the NHS. Leading Doctors have criticised the “Naylor Review” claiming it is a drive towards the “complete privatisation” of the NHS.

Various conservative administrations have been dismantling the NHS for many years now while telling people, “the NHS is safe in our hands”. It is akin to telling people the weather outside is warm and sunny when, in reality, there is a foot of snow and freezing. Unfortunately, and despite evidence to the contrary, many people believe what they are told irrespective of what they can see.

Down here in the 26 counties we hear Sinn Fein committed to a national single tiered health service. This is progressive without a doubt, but if they are going to fund it from general taxation they must also be committed to full employment. If this is the case, as surely it must be, then how are they going to force employers to take on staff they do not need? They cannot instruct employers what to do, it would be in breach of neo laissez faire (none governmental interference in the economy) economics. Therefore, it must be assumed in order to secure full employment, to fund, through Income Tax, a national health service free at the point of need, Sinn Fein, or People Before Profit/Solidarity or a combination of both must be committed to full employment, and this can only be done through the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange. It must therefore follow, that to achieve this the private companies, large ones, must be at least nationalised. However, despite the radicalness of their policies in the build up to the recent Irish election, I heard nothing about breaking with laissez faire economics and governmental involvement in the economy. But it is Sinn Fein policy to build a national health service, single tier based on the British model. That means funding through general taxation which must also mean, everybody paying Income Tax! We can go around the mulberry bush for ever here, but these are essential ingredients, which was why Clement Attlee embraced Keynesianism as the 1945 labour administrations economic policy.

To summarise, 1945 the end of the war. Unlike their predecessors in 1918, the troops coming back from fighting fascism wanted a better society than the one they left behind. They wanted no more means testing, no mor being afraid to visit a Doctor or hospital because they could not afford the fees. For this, among others, the electorate in Britain elected a radical labour government who promised, and delivered, a welfare state including the NHS. Capitalism allowed these radical reforms as it benefited the capitalist class as well as the proletariat. The United States were not entirely happy with the British electorate for rejecting Churchill and, using some bullshit excuse about Britain abusing Marshal Aid, stopped this lifeline to Britain. So much for the special relationship! The “Post War Consensus” briefly explained above, became the status quo between 1945 and, ultimately 1979 which allowed for incoming governments not to dismantle their predecessors achievements. The consensus. Margaret Thatcher dismantled the consensus and arguably introduced a new right-wing variant epitomised by the Tony Blair (New) Labour Government which did little to attack Thatcherism. By this time capitalism, the priority of any government in a liberal democracy, no longer needed the sizable workforce which they did when the NHS first came into being. With unemployment rising, due to various government policies – chiefly conservative administrations – Income Tax revenue was falling leading to less funding which taxation was supposed to pay for. Enter private sector. If taxation was no longer sufficient to fund the NHS, and still they kept giving tax cuts to benefit the rich, then funding would be sought elsewhere. This is clear evidence that governments, despite what they say, are in the business of privatising the NHS. If they were not, even allowing for unemployment, they would stop giving tax breaks to the rich! On to 2019 and the “Naylor Report” and the selling off of NHS land and buildings, including old hospitals which could be refurbished, or, demolished and a new one built on the site!

This in brief is the rise and what looks like the fall of the UK National Health Service. Things not set to improve any time soon, the electorate don’t seem that bothered yet. If they were, they would have voted in a labour government, as they did in 1945! Unfortunately for the people in the six counties who did not vote for Johnson and his version of conservatism they will have to put up with him as their Prime minister. Never mind the Legislative Assembly, they are not, no matter how it is dressed up, the government any more than Greater Manchester Council are!!

Any government or potential government in the twenty-six counties must be prepared to interfere or intervene in the economy if they want to establish a nationalised, single tier health service. Failure to do this will not result in such a service coming into being. Clement Attlee had the Second World War to build his NHS on the back of, the people needed radical change and he broke with all previous protocol and delivered. He intervened, as Keynesian economics allowed, in the economy and delivered his “jewel in the crown”, the NHS. This service applied to all parts of the UK including the six-counties. Today, the ideas of Keynes are points of history as monetarism, which does not allow the scope for the same government intervention in the economy, is the policy of the day. So the question must be asked: how far would the capitalist state allow such intervention? For socialists, it would not matter, the state would have to be engaged to get all measures through and a socialist state established, but would the capitalist economy allow for some moderate intervention in order to deliver a nationalised health service delivering care free at the point of need? Or, would the capitalist class link arms, possibly using the army if matters were to go too far threatening their state based on profits for the boss’s? Chile was an example of a constitutional government, socialist, under Salvador Allende being overthrown when the capitalist class felt he, Allende, had gone too far. It resulted in a fascist takeover and cost Allende his life. The capitalist world looked on and did nothing why? Probably because they felt under such circumstances, they would have done the same, their armed forces and their police would take out the government! If anybody has seen the film; A Very British Coup about a left-wing British Prime Minister brought down by the state they’d see what I mean. The film epitomises the power of the state over governments. Would this happen here in Ireland if any government, constitutional government, broke with aspects of laissez faire? These are all arguments for the old maxim; “no parliamentary road to socialism”, which brings us to the meaning of left-wing and right-wing. Left-wing tends to be those committed to social change and sit on the left wing of parliament. It originates from the French Revolution and is a bourgeois political concept. Right-wing tends to be the forces of conservatism who sit on the right wing of parliament. Therefore, in the British parliament the labour MPs sit on the left wing or left side of parliament, the conservatives sit opposite. In the former USSR the CPSU (Communist Party of the Soviet Union) would be considered right-wing, wishing to conserve the status quo, whereas Boris Yeltsin, who wished to dismantle communism – Soviet version – was considered left-wing. During the fall of the USSR western media often mentioned “conservative communists” a contradiction in terms to most people listening or reading. They simply meant the people who were in power at the time, the CPSU who wished to conserve the status quo.

Whether you agree with the revolutionary road to socialism, or still believe a parliamentary avenue remains open one thing all must agree on is; we need a new health service, free for all at the point of need! Just as Clement Attlee’s labour administration back in the forties brought about the NHS and nationalised certain industries which, as it turned out were only on loan, as progressive these moves were, they did not equal socialism. Socialism cannot coexist with capitalism and of all the isms the one which capitalism fears is socialism. Capitalism can coexist, even thrive, under fascism and as history tells us, under certain conditions the capitalist class will resort to it as their saviour. Nationalisation of industry, a move in the correct direction certainly, must not be confused or mistaken with “workers control of the means of production” it is not the same. The latter cannot be brought about without the removal of capitalism. If a Sinn Fein and possibly PBP/Solidarity coalition ever do bring about an Irish variant of the NHS, funded by general taxation, and if the capitalist state allow it, that same capitalist state can take it away. Just look at the UK! It will not be a substitute for the Socialist Republic which Sinn Fein once claimed to subscribe to, remember? That fight must continue!!

Kevin Morley, writer, activist,  author of A Descriptive History of the  Irish Citizen Army & Striking Similarities & The Misogynous President.

Socialism: Revolution or Reform? A National Health Service

A Morning Thought @ 631

A piece from People And Nature about a campaign to covert North Sea Oil into renewable energy.

By Gabriel Levy

Extinction Rebellion (XR) Scotland is appealing to North Sea oil workers to support a “just transition” away from oil and towards an energy system based on renewable electricity.

“The current oil and gas workforce can and should be redeployed to replace the fossil fuel that we can no longer afford to produce”, says XR Scotland’s appeal to communities in the north-east of the country that are dependent on oil. “Without a just transition to renewable energy from sun, wind and wave, we are fucked.”

There’s no better way forward for XR than seeking alliances of this kind, in my view. So here’s the whole text of the leaflet. (And if you want to print some off and distribute them yourself, here’s a PDF version.) 

Do you think you have skills that could be transferred to the renewables energy industry? YES □ NO □

Do you think that the entirety of the estimated 20 billion barrels of fossil fuel under the North Sea should be produced? YES □ NO □

Do you believe the planet can survive global hydrocarbon reservoirs being drained? YES □ NO □
XR protest. Photo from XR Scotland Facebook page

Do you have children and/or grandchildren? YES □ NO □

Did you think last year, that we would be experiencing a massive fire threat to the Amazon and the Arctic regions, and the loss of the Arctic Sea ice? YES □ NO □

Are you interested in getting involved in the campaign for a planned and just transition to the renewables?

contact I’ll put you in touch.

Demand a Just Transition to renewable energy

Both the UK oil industry and government seem to think that new licenses should be issued and oil and gas exploration on the North Sea stepped up. The industry estimates that 20 billion barrels of fossil fuel remain under the North Sea. No one in authority seems to think that these reserves should not be fully exploited.

This begs the questions:

► If a policy of business as usual is to be applied to the North Sea, why then should Saudi Arabian, Gulf of Mexico, Venezuelan, Sakhalin [Russia], Nigerian and other hydrocarbon reserves not also be fully exploited?

► What would the effect of producing all the world’s oil and gas be on global warming and climate change?

The Scottish Government seem to be prepared to try and lead us to an independent Scotland based on a carbon economy. According to the First Minister, Scotland’s carbon emissions would increase if oil production from the North Sea was stopped. This only makes any kind of sense if there is to be no transition to a renewable energy system to replace fossil fuel from the North Sea.

Despite government complacency, the oil industry will come under increasing pressure – financial and political – to reduce and eventually end hydrocarbon production, though perhaps not till it’s too late to avoid catastrophic climate change if the politicians and industry leaders have their way.

The past practice of both oil industry and government suggests that the workforce, offshore and onshore, will then be abandoned to their own devices, creating the sort of wilderness in the North East of Scotland that the UK coalfields became when there was no just transition from coal. Energy workers and their families from all over the UK would then be very badly affected. Though this time it looks as though they won’t suffer in isolation if climate science predictions are realised. 

Police reverting to type on an XR protest. Photo: XR Scotland Facebook page

The unjust transition from coal wasn’t inevitable. The miners and their families were punished for standing up to Thatcher’s plans to cripple organised labour. Offshore employers wanted anyone but ex-miners with their tradition of struggle, on the North Sea, and the unions failed to step up to the mark.

This time it has to be different for everyone’s sake.

A just transition to renewable energy could be planned and enacted starting now. New oil and gas exploration could immediately be stopped and a planned rundown of hydrocarbon production and a massive development of renewable resources begun now.

Not a penny of the oil windfall has so far been saved for the peoples of the UK. Is it not now imperative that all (declining) oil profits must be immediately re-invested in developing the renewables energy sector?

Retraining of the oil industry workforce is a must where there is an expected skills gap in a much-expanded renewables sector. The current oil and gas workforce can and should be redeployed to replace the fossil fuel that we can no longer afford to produce. Without a just transition to renewable energy from sun, wind and wave, we are fucked.

Our children and grandchildren deserve more from us than business as usual. They and the rest of the remaining life on the planet need a chance of a future that does not include the misery of living through a global meltdown.

That appeal to oil workers and their communities was written by Neil Rothnie, who has been active in Extinction Rebellion Glasgow. He is now retired, having spent his working life on the North Sea, in the oil industry. He participated in trade union activity there and, in particular, founded the rank and file newspaper Blowout in 1988, after the Piper Alpha disaster.

After Neil circulated the appeal, another friend of ours asked him how confident he was of this approach. He answered:

Can XR achieve a shutdown of fossil fuel production and a “Just Transition”? Not with its current forces – not permanently anyway. Not without mass popular support, I suspect. Will the offshore workers play a role? I hope so!

Can we avoid this confrontation in the oil capital of Europe, rely on market forces, disinvestment in oil, the migration of the oil industry to the renewable energy industry, and all without conflict? I can’t see it.

If we allow the industry and the UK and Scottish Governments to pursue their “business as usual” agenda and produce every drop of the estimated 20 billion barrels that remain under the North Sea, then there are no grounds for suspecting that anything other than a similar policy will be pursued in every other oil nation on the planet. If the fight starts here, there is every reason to be optimistic that it will find a resonance in China, Russia, and who knows, even in Saudi Arabia.

It’s never been easier, in my opinion, to see what has to be done. And a force has emerged that would seem to be capable of igniting that struggle, whether we consider that force to be even part of the working class or not. Anyway! It’s the only rebellion in town. Maybe it will become more identifiable as part of the “working class” as the struggle develops and new forces enter that struggle.

What’s the alternative? I’m very afraid for my own granddaughters’ future negotiating a dying planet with all the misery that that’s going to entail.

The best hope here is that XR will give a sharper cutting edge to the demand for just transition. The issue has been taken up by the Scot.E3 group, which has issued a Climate Jobs Manifesto, and seeks to unite trade unions, community groups and political parties. They are holding a conference in Edinburgh on 16 November (details here). At national and international level, Trade Unions For Energy Democracy has long been putting these arguments to union organisations (see a report of their recent meeting in the UK here).

There’s nothing like some direct action to complement these efforts. GL, 5 September 2019.

More to read on North Sea oil

■ A report published earlier this year by Oil Change International, Platform and Friends of the Earth Scotland, “Sea Change: Climate Emergency, Jobs and Managing the Phase-Out of UK Oil and Gas Extraction”, is worth reading. It shows how the UK government provides massive tax breaks to the multinational oil companies working on the North Sea, while doing nothing to prepare for a just transition in communities.

■ There are plenty of insights on the history of workers’ organisation on the North Sea in a big interview Neil Rothnie gave to People & Nature in 2013, and in the archive of Blowout, the rank-and-file workers’ newspaper

XR protest in Glasgow. Photo from Neil Rothnie

⏭ Keep up with People And Nature.

XR Call For Just Transition From North Sea Oil To Renewable Energy

A piece from the Belfast Telegraph suggests the support for a united Ireland among those living under a British administration might not be as strong as many advocates of a border poll feel. 

By Suzanne Breen

A total of 29% would support Irish unity but 52% would back remaining in the UK if a referendum was held imminently.

Less than a third of people here would vote for a united Ireland if a border poll was held tomorrow, according to a major study of 2,000 voters.

A total of 29% would support Irish unity but 52% would back remaining in the UK if a referendum was held imminently.

The key to nationalist success in a border poll is winning over those who define themselves as 'other' and vote for Alliance, the Greens and smaller parties.

But nearly three-quarters (73%) of those who define themselves as other - neither nationalist or unionist - would support remaining in the UK with just 27% opting for Irish unity.

Continue reading @ the Belfast Telegraph.

Just 29% In Northern Ireland Would Vote For Unity, Major Study Reveals

Eoin O Broin of Sinn Fein wants to be Housing Minister in any new government formation. Writing in the Irish Mirror he explains that he wants to and put the people's interests first.

As I sit in my local office, my constituency clinic is full. Almost every case I have is about housing.

Seán and Máire both work. Their kids are in the local school. They have rented the same house for 10 years but the landlord is selling up.

They don’t earn enough to get a mortgage but too much to be on the council list.

Everywhere they look rents are €2,000 or more. They simply can't afford it. What can they do?

Not a single affordable home to rent or buy has been delivered by Eoghan Murphy or Fine Gael.

Seán and Máire are desperate. They get up early in the morning. The work hard. They do everything right.

How is it that in a wealthy country a hard-working couple like this can't afford a home?

Continue reading in the Irish Mirror

Why I Want To Be Minister For Housing