Shaun Doherty

Brexit shambles and EU crisis

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There could be many twists and turns in the Brexit melodrama in the hiatus between my writing this article and you reading it.

To speculate on what may or not happen is futile, but there have been enough developments to date that help us unpick some of the fundamental issues at stake.

The most obvious starting point is that the government’s paralysis as a result of Theresa May’s inability to put her deal to the vote for a third time does not mean that there is likely to be an agreed alternative.

No compromise on freedom of movement

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The Immigration and Social Security Bill which had its second reading last month is designed to put an end to freedom of movement after Britain leaves the EU.

It makes an entirely arbitrary distinction between “skilled” and “unskilled” migrants and imposes a 12-month limit on the latter, who would not be able to bring in their families or access public funds.

The James Connolly Reader

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The legacy of James Connolly, Ireland’s pre-eminent Marxist revolutionary, has been appropriated and sanitised by every political tradition including the Irish state to such an extent that his historical role has often been obscured. Shaun Harkin’s selection of Connolly’s writing shines a penetrating light through this fog and allows him to speak for himself.

Can Corbyn's Labour grasp the moment?

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The Tories’ Brexit troubles are escalating, with talk of an early general election returning. But can Corbyn’s Labour Party take advantage of the situation? Shaun Doherty investigates.

In any assessment of the Labour Party conference it’s useful to look beyond the headlines, particularly since some of them were quite remarkable.

After Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s closing speech to conference George Osborne’s London Evening Standard ran a front page featuring a caricature of Corbyn wearing a communist hat and carrying a volume of Marx, alongside the headline, “Corbyn: United, We Will Never be Defeated”.

Tories in a bind over migrants

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The Tory immigration policy is in a mess. They are caught in the bind between their “hostile environment” towards immigrants and the needs of their friends in big business. Sajid Javid, the home secretary with leadership pretensions, has been reportedly forced to act against his instincts and allow EU passport holders to be “waved through” immigration after the March deadline if there is a No-Deal on Brexit.

Ireland: the border is the problem

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One of the ways that Brexit negotiations are breaking down is over Ireland. Yet much of the discussion ignores both imperialist history and the consequences for working people.

At first glance the shape of the border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the country makes no sense. It is a squiggly line stretching 310 miles from Lough Foyle in the north west to Carlingford in the east. It follows no natural boundaries and cuts across 180 roads. Donegal is indisputably in the north of Ireland, but not part of Northern Ireland. Neither was the border based on the division of Ireland into four historical provinces with Ulster as the northern one. Three counties of Ulster — Monaghan, Cavan and Donegal — were excluded from the newly created statelet.

Nazis outnumbered

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A demonstration of Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), the far-right anti-immigrant party, in Berlin, Germany on 27 May was dramatically outnumbered by anti-fascist protesters.

Overall around 70,000 anti-fascists confronted 5,000 supporters of the party that won a worrying 13 percent of the vote in the federal election in 2017.

Chants identified the party with its core Nazi support, its antisemitism and its anti-immigrant poison.

In a boost for the anti-fascists the AfD’s Berlin leader complained that his party’s supporters were being stigmatised.

The Balfour Declaration

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Bernard Regan has produced a timely and well researched analysis of the Balfour Declaration of November 1917. The declaration stated unequivocally the British government’s support for the “establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”. The qualification that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine” was a view observed less in its implementation than in its negation.

Northern Ireland Executive impasse

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Talks to re-establish the Northern Ireland Executive after more than a year’s stalemate have collapsed. The Guardian editorial put the blame unequivocally on Sinn Fein: “The darker truth here is that Sinn Fein has chosen to weaponise the language question for political ends, less to protect minority rights than to antagonise unionists.”

This assessment could not be further from the truth. An agreement had been reached by all parties which included a proposed Irish Language Act.

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