“Don’t take us for granted!” – voters give African National Congress a dose of tough love

TSHWANE, SOUTH AFRICA – Interest in countries’ local elections is usually confined within state borders, while national elections nearly always attract international attention. Not so South Africa’s municipal elections on August 3, which made headlines around the world. The elections saw the ruling African National Congress (ANC) lose its outright majorities in half of the country’s eight urban hubs, the metropolitan municipalities of Tshwane (Pretoria), Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, and Nelson Mandela Bay. The major ascendant parties are the conservative Democratic Alliance (DA) and the left-populist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). A massive 204 political parties contested the elections, 68 per cent more … Continue reading

The Morning After the Referendum of the Sinister Clowns

As I write this some interesting events  are occurring in the wake of the ‘Brexit’ referendum. Labour shadow cabinet members are striving to oust the leader, Corbyn, on the strange grounds that he didn’t back their (losing) position enthusiastically enough,  but rather seems to have more in common with the people who voted the other way. Yes: the best thing these people can think of at a time of national crisis is to pick up the telephone and plot against their leader. Not that they have any kind of plan. They don’t: they’ve no plan. At a time when we need … Continue reading

Beyond the Circus: The EU Referendum

With the referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU less than two weeks away and after a brutal campaign that feels like it’s been going on forever it’s perhaps not surprising that a degree of fatigue is setting in. Indeed the public “debate” has been continually marred by the suspicion that this has more to do with factionalism within the Tory party than any genuine popular will, and the continued spectacle of government ministers tearing strips off each other in public is about as politically engaging as an episode of Jeremy Kyle. Exasperated audience members on Question Time cry “I … Continue reading

The Referendum of the Sinister Clowns.

I feel I’m being forced into this referendum by a political class that is intent on manipulation and jockeying for position, not for substantial social or political reasons. It hasn’t arisen from some profound demand by ‘the people’ to settle an issue of sovereignty and democracy. It’s been foisted on us. We need a politically savvy debate on just these issues, but this certainly isn’t it. No wonder so many people are switched off. None of our masters care a fig for ‘the sovereignty of the British people’, or ‘the democratic will and rights of  the citizen ‘ etc etc.’ It’s frivolous chatter. And … Continue reading

Richard Wagner

Bryn Terfel Odin

With many of the key figures of modernity, popular beliefs about them are seriously askew, sometimes at 180′ from the truth: so Nietzsche was neither anti Semitic, nor a nationalist; Freud didn’t say it was ‘all about sex’ etc; Marx wasn’t a proponent of a one party state etc etc. It is almost as if whatever the popular view is of these figures, the truth lies in the opposite direction. With Wagner, though, the case is rather different: for a start, he was an antiSemite, and not just a bit, either: seriously so. The mistake lies in thinking this has to … Continue reading

James Connolly’s last words

To the Field General Court Martial, held at Dublin Castle, on May 9th, 1916: I do not wish to make any defence except against charges of wanton cruelty to prisoners. These trifling allegations that have been made, if they record facts that really happened deal only with the almost unavoidable incidents of a hurried uprising against long established authority, and nowhere show evidence of set purpose to wantonly injure unarmed persons. We went out to break the connection between this country and the British Empire, and to establish an Irish Republic. We believed that the call we then issued to … Continue reading