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NLF - election time

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Sunday, 11 Oct 2020, 09:41

Another week, another election, and another drubbing for the powers that be.   Theresa May is finally going, and not before time.  Exaunt stage left please, Theresa, and do us all a favour and don’t dance again, at least not in public.  My eyes can never unsee it!   Dancing Queen?  I don’t think so, more arthritic stork.  In fairness, I have to say, it takes a special kind of talent to be even more useless than David Cameron.  I’m sure she’ll find a use for it somewhere, maybe the European parliament…

Come to think of it, what do MEP’s actually do all day?  They can’t bring in legislation, they don’t get to vote on leglislation, the commission allows them to look it over, so what do they actually do? Apart from long trips on the Brussels gravy train or shopping in their private shopping centre?  

I see Martina Anderson, the Sinn Fein MEP had a makeover and a few elocution lessons for the election campaign, they had her well-scrubbed up. You can take the girl out of the bog, but can you take the bog out of the girl?  Well, they gave it a go, maybe there’s a beauty salon in the shopping centre? Of course she got elected, the sheep will vote for anything, if you wrap it in the flag of convenience

On the Euro vote, the Brexit party wiped out the rest in the polls and of course, the arguments are still raging on line between remainers and leavers.  Everyone claiming a majority, when the figures show, that the majority didn't even bother to turn out and vote.  Turnout averaged 36% which is 15 points short of a majority of voters and a whole 64% short of how many could vote.  Maybe it's time to set a threshold of 51% so that if those turnout figures aren't reached, then the vote is invalid.  Or maybe, add None of the Above to the ballot paper and make voting compulsory.  Then, at least, we would have a truer picture of what the people want.

Why people didn't bother to vote, is anybody's guess.  Maybe like me, they are sick of the sound of 'Brexit' or maybe, like me, they have lost all faith in any government institution to actually put the interests of the people before the interests of the party and their corporate friends...

Brexit isn't the only thing that I am sick of hearing about.  I don't know about you but it seems to me that there is a massive pester-power campaign going on in the media.  I don't have Sky TV, just Freeview, and there are about 5 or 6 subjects on telly at the present time, World War 2, the Royal family, Brexit, climate change, cooking and home makeovers of one kind or another and then there are the repeats, of the repeats, of the repeats!!  There is so little worth looking at, that the minute I hear 'climate change' or 'Brexit', I turn over but most nights I find myself turning off and watching Youtube. At least, it has some variety and provides an escape from the endless droning of brexit climate change WW2 royals, brexit climate change WW2 royals, brexit climate change WW2 royals....

What I feel is happening, is that this is part of some grand brain-washing scheme by the media (or the powers behind the politics) to wear us down until we sink into apathy and despair and just give up (if you don’t believe this could happen, watch Century of the Self).  For whose benefit, I’m not entirely sure but I just get the feeling that in a boardroom/Bilderburg meeting somewhere, there are a group of, most probably men, (Rothschilds? Soros? Et al?) sitting back and having a great old laugh at the rest of us. 

Laughing at how easily we are manipulated and led around like fools in a merry dance, being played off one another until gradually we become worn down by the constant fighting, bitching and arguing but mostly by the sense of powerlessness that no matter who you vote for, what arguments you make, what evidence you present, the truth remains buried and/or distorted, the rich get richer, the poor stay poor and the government still gets in…

 


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Idealism vs Reality

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Thursday, 12 May 2022, 14:07

We haven't had a working government in Stormont for 2 years now.  It's a political stalemate between the 2 extremes of Irish Republicanism (Sinn Fein) and Unionism (DUP) which are, in all probability, irreconcilable.  Especially, since the DUP hold the balance of power in Westminster and are keeping Theresa May in office and the Conservatives in government.

The same political stalemate is happening in the US with the stand-off between a Republican president threatening to close down the Government again and the Democrat-controlled Senate refusing to fund his wall.

Then, we have the political shambles of Brexit with Theresa May incompetently lurching from one crisis to the next and unable to deliver a 'deal'.  There is political stalemate with Europe refusing to renegotiate and neither the Left nor the Right anywhere able to fully grasp the reality of life outside the Parliamentary bubble for the rest of us and deliver what we want and need and not just on Brexit.

The stagnation of politics in the West at the present time is because we are caught between 2 irreconcilable positions, the Left and the Right, or public vs private and there is no-one of competence, capable of stepping up and delivering a coherent and practical alternative. (Well, apart from me!)

The other problem is that the political structure and the policies of the Left and Right are years out of date and do not serve the world of today.  The Right dominates at the moment because the Left have collapsed and failed to address the reasons for this.  Tony Blair did attempt to move Labour from the old policies of the 70’s that had kept them out of office and towards the middle but unfortunately, he kept going in that direction and ended up more right-wing than some Tories. 

The Right believe in capitalism, especially Free Market Capitalism which has been the doctrine since the 1980’s.  It doesn’t matter that it collapsed in 2008; those on the Right still refuse to acknowledge its failure or to acknowledge that it worked best when it came with a social conscience as it did in the time of people like Cadbury and Rowntree.

The political doctrines of the left and right were drawn up when the parties were formed, either in response to or opposition to, events or social and political conditions as Labour did after the Second World War when the populace demanded change.  The Welfare State was set up to address the demand for better health care, education and housing and to provide a safety net against poverty.  However, the Conservative Party detest the Welfare State and have been doing their best to dismantle it since then.  Their belief in the private over public is best seen in the way they sold off and privatised all the nationalised industries. 

Here in the North, Sinn Fein are becoming strangulated by their ‘ideals’.  Their refusal to sit in Parliament was a policy drawn up a hundred years ago as a protest against British rule in Ireland.  Since they have signed and accepted the Good Friday Agreement, they have accepted British rule in the North so why are they not taking their seats?  They also have a problem with the oath to the Queen but let’s be realistic about it, would anyone think they really meant it? Or they could do what Tony Benn always did and cross their fingers.  If they were in Parliament, they could at least drum up support against the oath from other Parliamentarians and get rid of it altogether.  Ironically, if they had taken the seven seats they won after the last election, they could have made life very difficult for the Government and since they were able to change their position on the EU from anti to pro within a couple of years, I don’t see why they can’t make that change.

The doctrines of the Left and Right, like Sinn Fein and the DUP are based on certain ideals.  Each has their own belief in what the world should be from their perspective and they try and shape it to fit in with those ideals.  That’s not to say that having ideals is necessarily a bad thing but when it translates into policies and dogma that are unchangeable and cause political stagnation then it becomes a problem. 

The politic world is ripe for change, a middle way has to be found between left and right, a balance between public and private because as history has shown us, neither of these options has worked when put into practice. It is time to abandon the doctrines of the past and move towards a new way of working. Brexit has shown that issue-based politics has driven a wedge through the left and the right but it also offers hope of a better way of working in the future.  Unfortunately, (or fortunately?) it would mean the parties within Westminster would have to abandon their dogmatic political position and work to deliver a solution where politicians would work together to resolve the issues instead of trying to impose a party-based solution more concerned with keeping a government in power but which cannot deliver in the long term.

We need a complete restructuring of the political landscape.  We should decide on the issues, healthcare, housing, transport, security, education, what are we willing to support through taxation, what kind of society do we want and what are we willing to do to create it?  In abandoning party politics and moving towards issue-based politics, we would be dealing with the actual problems, free from the dogma and rhetoric of the past and instead, focussed on finding a solution to today’s problems. It would also mean a reduction in government and an end to cronyism and corporate predominance. 

There should also be rules in place so that only people who actually live in a constituency have the right to stand for election in that constituency. This would get rid of the London-centric politics which has split the country and left those outside the London and Parliamentary bubble feeling disconnected and forgotten.   

While many are worried about Brexit, we should see it as an opportunity to redraw the political landscape.  Once Britain is free from Brussels, we have the chance to start over, to wipe the slate clean and rebuild society and the political structure.  Margaret Thatcher once said ‘there is no such thing as society’, this was a very famous quote but it was only part of what she said, she went on to say, ‘There are individual men and women, and there are families.  And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look after ourselves and then look after our neighbour.  It is time to look after ourselves. 

Change will come, the disaffection of the people with politicians and the political structure is evident across the world.  We have hit an impasse and Brexit has revealed the failure of the Left and Right to find a way forward or to offer a solution.  If we are to move forward, then we have to address the realities of the world today and create a political structure that serves the needs of the people and the country first.  The day of party politics is coming to an end, change can be frightening but with a little courage and imagination, there is no telling what kind of society we could create.  All it takes is the will to make it happen, we can be idealistic and wish for a better world but at the end of the day, it is up to us to create it.  Idealism does have its place, it can and does inspire us to action, great men like Mahatma Ghandi were idealistic and achieved so much but it was achieved through action and by facing and dealing with the realities of the day.  

Idealism fails when it doesn’t deal with reality as we have seen only too well in the last century. 

Albert Einstein once said, ’Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow’.  I think we should learn from yesterday, act today and tomorrow will take care of itself’.

A few weeks ago, a bomb went off in Derry; a stark reminder of what can happen when the ‘ideals’ of the past, impinge on the present reality.  When vacuums open up in politics and leadership (quite often between their ears!), the worst elements step in and try to fill them. 

 


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Tories, U-turns and the NHS

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Monday, 7 Jan 2019, 19:19

So, Theresa May has a grand new plan for the NHS which involves making health care more 'community-oriented' instead of hospital based.  Back in the 1980's, we had lots of small community-based hospitals and I was lucky enough to give birth to my youngest son in our local hospital; he was one of the last children to be born there.  I say lucky because back then you stayed in for 5 days after giving birth (10 if you had a caesarean) and the nurses looked after the babies at night so you got a well-needed night's sleep.  The food was really good too; we had home-made scones for breakfast and good dinners in the evening.  I was so well looked after; I didn't want to go home!  Now, you're out in 24 hours and once the baby is born, you're basically on your own.  As for the food, after my recent stay (on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the worst and 10 the best) I'd give it a 3 and that's being generous!

Then, Maggie Thatcher closed them all and centralised everything in the larger hospitals.  The thing about this is that over here, they built 2 huge hospitals, one in Omagh and one in Enniskillen, at a cost of millions under PFI schemes which we're going to be paying for, for the next 20 years.   

Now it's all change again! Maggie may not have been for turning, but it seems Theresa may!

 


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1690 VS 1916

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Wednesday, 22 Nov 2017, 22:12

Well Jimmy, can you believe it?  The fight we have all been waiting for is finally on!  The 2 big hitters of the Northern Ireland political scene, Sinn Fein and the DUP are finally set to slug it our in a clash that has been dubbed 1690 vs 1916!

These two have been dancing around one another for years and there have been many skirmishes along the way but there was never a decisive victory that one could claim over the other.  But here we are now and who could even begin to try and predict the outcome of this?  The line has been drawn between them for the first time in over 40 years and the last election has ironically, strengthened bother their hands. Red hands at that! (That's just a little 'in' joke for the Ulster folk)

They have laid waste to the SDLP and the Ulster Unionists, those former giants of the political arena whose glory days now seem, sadly, behind them.  How this will turn out, is anybody's guess!

In the green corner, we have Sinn Fein or the Shinners as they are affectionately known, thought not by the DUP!!  Sinn Fein are the political wing of the now retired IRA. (they haven't gone away, ye know!)  They were on the 'Catholic' side during the Troubles.  They fought for many years in the 'armed struggle'...sorry, I have to apologise, it seems I got that wrong!  They didn't fight but they 'supported' the armed struggle or as they called it 'the fight to free Ireland from the yoke of British Imperialism'.  Although the DUP would have a lot more to say about that and still consider them a 'bunch of bloody terrorists!'.  Okay, what a pair!  This is hotting up to be the fight of the century, although I'm not entirely sure what century we're talking about, but the trash talk had been going on for years!

Anyway, they have now laid claim to the nationalist mandate in the North and have grown in political strength and confidence since the end of the Troubles.  However, the big question remains - will they ever really have the confidence to get over the past or themselves and take the fight to the Wembley Stadium of politics (or should that be Croke Park!) the British Parliament???

The only all-Ireland party, they're also a growing political force across the border in the Irish Republic or their 'true' home and where last year, they fought the good fight against the introduction of water charges.  A big pro-EU party, which is ironic considering their name and their history.  Sinn Fein translates as 'ourselves alone' and they have fought for years against British rule in Ireland! 

Their big date in the calendar is Easter when they have rallies and marches to commemorate the Easter Rising and last year was the biggie as it was the 100th anniversary.  This was when Ireland started the fight that led to the founding of  the Irish Free State.  Strange that the Shinners seem quite happy to hand over the sovereignty of the country to the EU, the IMF and the World Bank after all that, but there you go...although, I think if truth be told, I think the Irish government have already done that!!

We don't really know how determined they are in their support for the EU, after all, it was that very same EU that imposed the water charges they fought so hard against recently!!  There are a few theories on this, some say that since they are newcomers to the international political scene, they want to enjoy the ride on the old gravy train to Brussels for a while longer and don't want to give up the perks and benefits of the EU especially since they have only just got their snouts in the trough!  Others think it's just the same old; whatever the DUP are for, they're against!

Anyway, whatever the reason, they have now moved up into the political heavy-weight class and there seems to be no one who can slow them down or stop them!!  And that, ladies and gentlemen, are Sinnnn Feeeiiiinnnn!!

Over in the red corner, we have the DUP or the Dupers, as some like to call them and not affectionately at that!  But don't mistake the 'red' in their corner for the colour of their politics because they are as far away from 'red' as you'll ever get!! 

Stalwarts of the political scene in Northern Ireland, they have been around forever, going right back to the early days of the troubles.  There are those who say there might not have been any troubles if that 'big mouth Paisley had shut up'.  Not my words, Jimmy, just the word on the street...

Anyway, if any party ever gave credence to the saying, 'politics is showbiz for ugly people', then it's the DUP.  Anti-EU, pro Brexit, they don't really need the trough of Brussels as they've just been given free rein to the British public purse.  (Seems there was a magic money tree after all!!!)  They were always able to depend on government support throughout the years of the Troubles, a reward for their staunch loyalty to all things British, even threatening the government when it seemed they weren't being British enough.  We'll never forget the 3rd Force or the Anglo - Irish Agreement protests, will we, Jimmy?

The DUP were on the 'Protestant' side during the Troubles, albeit a very conservative right-wing version of Protestantism.  They once refused to allow ELO to play in Ballymena as it was deemed to be too decadent!  Kidding???  I wish I was!

Like Sinn Fein, there's a big day out in the calendar for the DUP too, the 12th of July!  This is the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne when King William of Orange (Protestant) beat King James (Catholic) in a battle for the throne of England back in, yes, you've guessed it, 1690!  And they've been celebrating ever since which is ironic as the DUP aren't exactly renowned for being party people!  Another ironic fact about this is that King William (or Billy as he's also known) was, as one historian described, an 'avaricious homosexual'.  The DUP are well know /get rid of former DUP rising star, Paul Berry when he was reported to have indulged in some 'compromising' behaviour in a hotel somewhere in Belfast, a few years back.  Last seen, wandering in the political wasteland with a couple of unseated Ulster Unionists.  Awwww, shame...

Anyway, there success in the recent Parliamentary election has added to their strength and power and they have teamed up with their natural allies...The KKK?  No, not at all, the Tories!  So, Arlene, has climbed into bed with Theresa (metaphorically, of course!) in the biggest act of political prostitution ever and the DUP are laughing all the way to the bank!  Oh what a party!

Money is what the DUP are all about, (Protestant work ethic and all that) and they do love to spend it, especially when it isn't theirs!  Always in the top rankings for MP's expenses, in 2015 the DUP took the top 2 places in the list with Jim Shannon claiming £205,798.23 and Ian Paisley Jnr, £195,247.59. 

They're also involved in a bit of trouble back in Norn Iron at the moment, in the Cash for Ash scandal where they paid businesses £1.60 for every £1 spent in a heating renewal scheme that is set to cost the taxpayer £490m over 20 years!  We won't even mention the Invest NI building, the most expensive rental property in Belfast at £25 a square foot which is going to cost the taxpayer another £120m also over 20 years!  This property was built as part of a PFI scheme and here's the real joke, after 20 years, the property developer is still going to own the building!  Oh, this is too much!!  You couldn't make it up!!

So, we are now poised to watch the 2 heavy-weights of Northern Irish politics fight it out to the bitter end (cos no one does bitter like they do here!!)  What do you think Jimmy, are the Shinners punching above their weight or will the brash newcomers take out the old dinosaurs!!

It's a tough one to call, Saint, Unionism isn't exactly known for standing their ground when it comes to a real fight,  They ran away from an Irish Republic back in the day, too afraid to let go of the old apron strings of Britannia and still don't seem to have the bottle to take on a United Ireland and fight their corner.

Sinn Fein, I have to say, seem hungrier for success.  For years, they liked to play the victim card blaming the British and the Unionists for repressing them but, changed times, Saint, and you can see their confidence growing with every election.  Who, 20 years ago, would ever have thought the 'bad boys' of Irish Republicanism would ever sit in Stormont with the DUP?  Or rather, the DUP would sit with them!  It seems 'Never! Never! Never!' was only until big Ian got the top job and the big pay packet.

Still, it's a close one to call, Saint, but if I had to pick a winner, I would have to put my money on the Dupers.  They've been doing the politics thing a lot longer and that experience has stood them in good stead in the past.  And big Arlene, I'd think twice about tackling her myself, a tough old cookie or as they say in Ulster Scots, 'a grand big cuddy!'.

The Shinners might be younger and hungrier but they don't have the experience of the old dinosaurs and you have to ask yourself if they are capable of delivering that knock-out punch when needed.

Ok, Jimmy, thank-you for that and I have to agree and go with the DUP too.  At the end of the day, they have the government on their side and as long as Theresa can hang on to power, they'll have the upper hand.  Mind you, you know the old saying, 'a week is a long time in politics', and we've seen some storms in the past year with Brexit, Trump and Corbyn all defying the pollsters!

And as if things weren't hot enough, the 12th is just around the corner and we all know what that means!  The old sectarian divisions will be ripped wide open again!  Bonfires!  Riots!  And you won't believe this Jimmy, on top of all that, Linfield (Norn Iron's version of Rangers) are set to play Celtic on July 11th in Belfast!!  What is going on in the world???

Hold on, Jimmy, I'm getting some news...just announced...apparently the Stormont Assembly is on hold, Sinn Fein are stalling over a promised Irish Language Act from Tony Bliar, sorry, Blair!  But you know Norn Iron, you can't have one side getting something without the other getting something too, so the DUP are demanding equality of footing for Ulster Scots!  See you, Jimmy!  Ah hah, what a game!

There are rumours that the Shinners are really holding our so Arlene won't get to spend the big bribe...sorry, pay off...sorry, what is it then??  What?  'The price of strong and stable government'... Really?  Is she still using that old line?  Well, I never...

Hold on, more breaking news...it's...it's...it's all off!!  Summer recess, they've all gone off on holiday to September.

So, what do we do now, Saint?

I'm f*cked if I know, Jimmy!

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Trump VS Pope

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I was reading an article in The Observer at the weekend by Stewart Lee where he was comparing Donald Trump’s meeting with the Pope as a ‘good vs evil’ encounter.  Trump in this scenario being likened to Satan, and the Pope being the ‘good’ guy.  Whatever your opinion on ‘the Donald’, I really don’t think he is completely evil any more than the Pope is completely ‘good’.  I mean, is Donald Trump really more ‘evil’ than the Pope?

 Look at it this way, the Pope has, for most of his life, been a member of the Catholic Church.  An organisation that has been responsible for the systemic rape, abuse and possible murder of the most vulnerable of children, on a global scale.  There is nowhere on the planet where the Catholic Church has been, that doesn’t have a legacy of the most appalling physical and sexual abuse of minors and that is a fact. I don't really think the title Pope, is short for Protector of Paedophiles, I think that's just a rumour...

Now, as far as I know, Donald Trump hasn’t done anything like that to children.  He does have his faults but paedophilia I don’t think, is among them and certainly not on the scale committed by the Catholic Church.  Now, Pope Francis is head of that organisation and he appears to be a ‘good’ person.  He makes a lot of statements about humanity and appears to say all the right things.  However, as a member of that organisation and now head, what has he done to root out the paedophiles?   Does he have a legacy of outing paedophiles or railing against the terrible abuses being carried out by the membership?

Jimmy Saville, who was once a much-loved ‘national treasure’, is now reviled for the rape and sexual abuse of children, young girls and vulnerable adults.  Would you worship in a church led by Jimmy Saville or even an organisation that regarded him as a ‘good’ person?   Yet, the Pope and the Catholic Church are still seen as something that should be respected? 

Jimmy Saville got away with the things he did because so many ‘good’ people stood by and either said nothing or covered up his behaviour.  This same man was given a knighthood and dined with Margaret Thatcher every Christmas at Chequers.  There is a clip of a video online where the great John Lyndon (aka Johnny Rotten) talks about Saville and what he gets up to.  The clip was never shown back in the 70’s, the powers that be, protecting Saville.  Yet, Johnny Rotten was held up by the media, at the same time, as a threat to the decency of the nation.

There is much that I disagree with Donald Trump about, but I don’t believe he is inherently evil.  He is certainly a product of his environment and upbringing.  Arrogant?  For sure!  Misogynistic? Definitely, but evil?  Well, who’s to say...yet?  And credit where credit is due, he did get rid of TTIP, that foul trade agreement that was going to hand over the nations of Europe to the corporate elite, as if they didn’t have enough of us already. 

Now, his trade deal with Saudi Arabia could be regarded as an evil act but the British government is the world’s second biggest arms dealer/supplier, and to some very dodgy states.  Are they evil or are they just 'protecting' the nation? 

There are acts of evil being committed around the world day and daily.  Some deliberately, some accidentally; like Theresa May, ‘accidentally’ losing that list of paedophile MP’s when she was Home Secretary or now, wanting to bring back a ‘sport’ that involves the hunting, terrorising and tearing to shreds of that most beautiful of animals, the fox.  Not to mention being part of a party that seems intent on grinding the poor, the vulnerable and the working class into the ground.

Which acts are more evil, and which people?  Those who commit the deeds or those who stand silently by and let them happen or help cover them up? 

By the way folks, election coming up, so don't forget to vote, the future of Reynard may depend on you...


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